How Come There’s no Male Contraceptive Pill Yet?

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March 17th, 2015

Once the female birth control pill hit the market, the Sexual Revolution was in full swing. Since that time, scientists have been trying to develop a male counterpart to “the pill” without success. But why? How come there’s no male contraceptive pill yet? It has to do with the complexity of the male reproductive system. You can use low-levels of hormones to trick a woman’s body into thinking she is pregnant, and thus inhibit ovulation. But there is no equivalent to stopping a man’s body from producing sperm.  Some studies have tried a hormonal approach but were halted due to a high rate of side effects. Another problem is that sperm production occurs on a 90-day cycle. That means that if you stop a man’s sperm production today, he would still be fertile for another three months. Researchers are now looking at the problem from other angles, such as making sperm unable to swim or obstructing fertilization.

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Pharmaceutical companies are also a stumbling block. They are afraid of taking on liability. If a man takes such a birth control pill and it fails to work or he experiences side effects, he may sue. So scientists are hemmed in trying to develop a male birth control alternative that has few side effects, yet is effective. Some women are also wary as to whether their man will take a pill each day unwaveringly. Men are interested in such a form of contraception, at least in the U.S. One survey showed that 50% of men would take a male birth control pill if it were on the market today.  Researcher Michael O’ Rand at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill is working on a method that alters the protein Eppin which in turn interferes with how the sperm swim. If they can’t reach the egg fertilization cannot occur. An Indonesian team is working with an herbal remedy called Genda​russa, which also inhibits fertilization. This was discovered from a tribe in Papua New Guinea who make tea out of the herb as a method of birth control. The last method is Vasalgel. This is a polymer injected into each vas deferens tubule in order to block sperm from entering the semen. This chemical vasectomy is reversible and the closest one to FDA approval, which is still years away.

Trials Begin for New Male birth Control

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January 20th, 2015

Men’s role in birth control is generally rather limited. There are condoms of course. But many long-term monogamous couples don’t like to use them. They can be uncomfortable, fumbled with in the throes of passion and easily misused or broken. A vasectomy is another male option. Many men are squeamish about the idea, though it doesn’t hurt that bad. In fact, it’s only same day surgery. Still, it is a bit pricier and far more permanent. Meanwhile, many women don’t like the hormonal changes that come with the birth control pill, long-term. An IUD irritates some women. But now a nonprofit called The Parsemus Foundation is beginning new trials for an innovative method of birth control focused on the male side of the equation.  This is a nonprofit organization which seeks “low cost solutions” the big drug companies aren’t interested in.  The technique they are using has been called a liquid vasectomy. It is non-invasive, cost effective and easily reversible.

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The doctor injects a gel into the vas deferens. These are two tubules that supply sperm with semen from the testes before exiting the body. These sperm cannot pass through the gel, eliminating their ability to reach and fertilize the egg. To reverse it, another liquid is injected into the same area, dissolving the polymer. The product is now in pre-clinical trials. Three male baboons have received the procedure. Each had access to between 10 and 15 females. Researchers have reported that despite ample mating, none of the females has gotten pregnant. This product does nothing against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) however, such as HIV. It should only be used by disease-free monogamous couples in a long-term relationship.  If all goes well, “vasalgel” as it is called will be available by 2017. Pharmaceutical companies meanwhile may be worried about their profits from the birth control pill going once this product hits the market.

Performance Anxiety when Trying to Conceive

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November 12th, 2014

When you first start trying to have a baby, it can seem too good to be true. There are no more condoms to fool around with. Your partner may be extra motivated, which is always fun. Certain days you know, no matter what happened that day, you are getting lucky that night. But after some time, say months or even a year, what was once an added bonus can turn into a liability. Los Angeles marriage and family therapist Aaron Buckwalter says, “…after 6 months of no pregnancy, people start to get a little worried. Part of this worry derives from hearing so much about infertility that people start to get anxious and move rapidly into concern about infertility.” This is where sex turns a corner. Instead of fun, it becomes a chore. Buckwalter says, “Some books and doctors recommend having sex twice a day during the ovulation period. Having sex 6 times in three days sounds like it could be fun, but can lead to performance anxiety and often anger and resentment.” This negativity is carried into the bedroom. But how men and women deal with such emotions is different.anxiety (1)

“Men do typically bear the brunt of performance anxiety as couples try to conceive,” Buckwalter says. “When the pressure is on to have sex numerous times in a short time period, many men have erection difficulties and also difficulty achieving orgasm each time. If there is a ‘failure’ in one of those attempts, it can compound the pressure later in the day or the following day to perform their duty successfully.” The woman’s own anxieties can compound the issue. With so much pressure and negative emotions building up on both sides, and the spontaneity and playfulness gone out of it, it’s no wonder so many guys have performance anxiety at this crucial time. So how can you overcome it? According to Buckwalter, “Rather than giving into the timetable and feeling rushed, the couple should relax and try to re-introduce playfulness into the situation. It can be a good time to check in with each other about fantasies or role playing ideas and other ways to distract them from the timetable.” Make it more like in the old days. Don’t feel pressured. Instead, find ways to deal with your anxiety. Talk about it and see how she feels, too. Once you clear the air and deal with those negative emotions, lovemaking can become organic and exciting, and less of a chore. If performance anxiety still exists, seek out a counselor or sex therapist. If you cannot conceive after one year of trying, see a fertility specialist.

Things You Need To Know About A Vasectomy

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September 22nd, 2014

A vasectomy is by far the most reliable type of birth control. But there are a few things you should consider before getting one. If you are of a certain age and do not want to have children, or are done reproducing a vasectomy can make a whole lot of sense. It only takes 20 to 30 minutes. The vas deferens are each cut, there are two, disallowing sperm from exiting the body. Sexual functioning however will remain the same. Urologist and head of Southern Illinois University’s fertility division Dr. Tobias Köhler said, “There is no safer or more reliable form of birth control apart from abstinence.”

Still there are things you need to know about having a vasectomy. Though a slight chance, there is still a risk that you could still impregnate your partner. Köhler says that after a vasectomy the chances of pregnancy are 1 in 2,000. Though they are very small, the surgery is not infallible.

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A vasectomy doesn’t make you sterile immediately. Köhler says that you still have, “bullets in the chamber.” He adds, “You need to ejaculate 20 or 30 times after the procedure to clear out your existing sperm reserves.” At least now you have a good excuse. Lots of men fail to remember that they aren’t automatically infertile. Each year, a flurry of lawsuits occur over so-called failed vasectomies when in reality the patient should have used the couple’s normal form of birth control until the time when his chamber was clear. There are a few minor risks. Köhler says, “Don’t Google ‘vasectomy risks’ because you’ll see all kinds of crazy stuff.”

There is a small chance of infection and of developing hematoma, a condition where blood collects in the scrotum. If this occurs, a second minor procedure may be necessary. There are zero long-term negative effects to your equipment and performance from a vasectomy. You won’t find any drop in testosterone either. Insurance companies love to cover this procedure since children are expensive to them. Make sure your decision is final. A reversal surgery can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000. There is no rush to decide. Köhler says, “If it’s been a while since you had your vasectomy—like, more than eight years—you only have about a 50-50 shot of regaining your ability to reproduce.”

An Overactive Bladder (OAB)

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September 15th, 2014

Don’t feel embarrassed. Almost 33 million in the U.S. have an overactive bladder (OAB). But medical experts believe that this number is conservative. A lot of men don’t like to talk about OAB. Yet 30% of them have it. Don’t put off speaking to your doctor about this problem. There are many treatment options available and they are effective. Symptoms include frequent urination, feeling like you need to go often, urinating several times during the night, even leakage.Not every man has every symptom. You may have just one or two. Sometimes the urge is so strong you can’t control it. Some men urinate up to eight times a day. Having to go at least two times at night is also a strong sign, an experience dubbed nocturia. Urge incontinence is another common symptom. This is when some leakage occurs when you feel like you have to go. Physical exertion, laughing or sneezing can also make leakage occur. An enlarged prostate makes for two thirds of OAB cases in men. The urethra passes through the prostate gland. When the prostate swells it puts pressure on the urethra. An enlarged prostate can also cause a blockage, resulting in OAB symptoms.

Though most men experience OAB due to an enlarged prostate, also called benign prostate hypoplasia (BPH), it isn’t the only cause. Other causes includebladder cancer, bladder stones, an infection, stroke and even Parkinson’s disease. Stroke and Parkinson’s can cause nerve damage which may lead to OAB.  If you tell your doctor you think you might have OAB he will want to perform an exam. You will be tested for infection and bladder stones. There are also lots of tests to check you bladder’s functioning. One of these may be performed. One test includes seeing how much urine remains within your bladder after urination. Another will measure the urine stream. The doctor could also see how much pressure there is in and around the bladder. The results of these efforts should give the physician enough information in order to make a diagnosis. There are some lifestyle changes that can improve the symptoms of OAB. Eating healthy, exercising regularly and drinking the right fluids will all be recommended. You may need to keep a record of urination. A bathroom schedule could be imposed. If you are overweight or obese, it can affect the condition and the doctor may recommend a program to help you lose weight. A bladder training routine may be initiated. There are medications for OAB. There is a device for those who are getting mixed up signals in the brain going to the bladder. If none of these options work, there is surgery.