Finding an effective method of birth control for men may be as simple as looking towards nature. A tropical plant that has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy may have a role in male contraception.
What is it?
Gendarussa leaves have been brewed and drank as a remedy for stress. People started noticing an unexpected side effect: reduced male fertility.
For the past few years, researchers from Indonesia have closely studied the gendarussa plant and its medicinal properties. The plant contains a natural chemical that disrupts the enzyme on sperm that is needed to perforate the wall of the egg. So the chemical essentially prevents the sperm from being able to enter the egg…and thus prevents pregnancy.
Does it work?
Researchers have been able to extract the chemical from the plant and put it in pills. These pills are now being tested in human subjects as a form of contraception. The results from the Indonesian studies are encouraging. Dr. Bambang Prajogo, a pharmacy professor at Airlangga University, leads research on the development of this potential new form of male birth control and has publicly stated that the pills are “99% effective” based on his trials.
What makes the gendarussa-based birth control pill even more promising is that the side effects seem minimal. It’s not a hormone either. In addition, the effect of the drug is reversible; men can regain fertility within several weeks after discontinuing the pill.
When will it be available?
The gendarussa birth control pill is expected to be on the market in Indonesia by 2016. It will probably be an even longer wait before we can set our sights on this drug in the United States. Nevertheless, the gendarussa pill signifies one of several new birth control methods being developed that are geared towards providing men with more contraceptive options.
What can men use now?
Would men be receptive to a male contraceptive?
There have been surveys showing a minority of men would use a hormonal birth control method if it were available. I’m curious whether not only men, but also women, will be receptive to birth control for me.
Tell us in the comments below…
- Would you be receptive to a natural male contraceptive?
- Does this sound more or less appealing than a hormonal method?
- Would you rely on this method or use with another method?
About the Author: Kevin Vu is a third-year pharmacy student at the University of California San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences.