The “Male Pill”: The Learning Curve from Basic Science to the Drug Development Pipeline and the Strength of Interdisciplinary Collaboration
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Nearly five decades have elapsed since the development of the female contraceptive hormone pill. During this time numerous alternative female contraceptive methods have also gained acceptance, however “the pill” and other hormone-based female contraceptive methods remain the most widely used. There are many couples where the female cannot use existing methods. For the male, effective contraceptive methods are limited to condoms and vasectomy. NIH, WHO, and the National Academy of Science Institute of Medicine have all stressed the need to develop new non-hormonal contraceptive methods. In the US, 30% of men use these male methods, so there is already a significant acceptance of male alternatives for actively participating in family planning. My basic research in male reproductive biology has always focused on identifying regulators of sperm or testis function that could be employed to develop a male contraceptive.