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Scientists Have Developed Oral Contraceptive For Men With No Hormones Or Harmful Side Effects

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Some men embrace the role of fatherhood, but for those who are not ready, their main choices are condoms, a vasectomy, abstinence or relying on women to manage contraception. Soon they could have a new option.

Scientists from the University of Minnesota say they've developed an oral contraceptive that does not contain hormones and doesn't cause harmful side effects. They presented their findings this week at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.

"We are very optimistic and very hopeful," says Dr. Gunda Georg, a professor at the University of Minnesota.

The pill for men blocks a vitamin A-producing gene needed for conception. After a four-week test on mice, researchers say it dramatically reduced sperm counts and was 99% effective in preventing pregnancy without harmful side effects.

"We targeted non-hormonal pathways so that we wouldn't have those hormonal side effect," says Md. Abdullah Al Noman, a graduate student at the University of Minnesota.

The mice could be fathers again four to six weeks after they stopped receiving the compound.

"As a urologist, I'm excited because this is something different, this is something non-hormonal," says Dr. Jamin Brahmbhatt, a urologist with Orlando Health.

Medical experts caution while the findings are encouraging, they are also preliminary. "We have to wait. It may take years before we actually see this as an option for men," says Dr. Brahmbhatt.

For some people, a birth control pill for men is an idea whose time has come.

"Overall, more safety during sex for both partners, that'd be beneficial, especially for me, so I would take it," says Justin Langan. Khalik Evans says, "I probably would try it out, while I'm still young at least. And then when I get older, I just let it rip."

If the FDA gives the OK, clinical trials for humans could begin within six months.

Researchers say other possible male birth control pills currently undergoing clinical trials target testosterone, which researchers say could come with side effects including weight gain and depression, as well as adversely affect cholesterol levels.

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