Snorting drugs before sex is not the safest pre-coital practice, but a new nasal contraceptive for guys might make substance-sniffing a standard part of foreplay.
At least, that’s the hope of British scientists at the University of Wolverhampton, who have discovered a chemical that temporarily makes men sterile, making it a potential pregnancy-preventing option for women who are sick of the Pill and its side effects. The compound’s sperm-disabling effects were described as “startling and almost instant” by its discoverers and can be delivered in the form of a nasal spray.
Figuring out male contraception has been tricky for scientists because compounds that can penetrate sperm are hard to find. The Wolverhampton scientists, fortunately, managed to find one that not only works its way into the sperm cell, but can stop its incessant, baby-making wriggling within seconds.
It does so by disabling a cellular protein — identified by a team of fertility experts at Portugal’s University of Aveiro — that essentially acts as the sperm’s swimming coach. But guys, don’t worry about the long-term health of your swimmers: the drug-induced handicap is only temporary, wearing off within a matter of days.
The research is still ongoing — tests on live animals are expected to start in about three years — so it’ll be a while before the drug will line the reproductive health aisles of our pharmacies. As of now, it isn’t totally clear what form it’ll ultimately take — pills and sub-skin implants are being considered, too — but regardless of how it’s ultimately packaged, it’ll take a load off of couples trying to avoid any oopsie-babies. Even those trying to get back into the pregnancy game can benefit: Women who stop taking the Pill in order to conceive usually have to wait several months before their fertility cycles get back on track, but male contraception has the potential to finally render those concerns moot.