The pill is a sledgehammer approach to contraception…. A second-generation of [drugs] is being designed to do the job without upsetting a woman’s normal cycle of ovulation and menstruation…. A contraceptive administered to the man can be given only for a short time without actually affecting the development of sperm … and, therefore, is not being considered for actual clinical use. —Science News, April 15, 1967
Contraceptives have come a long way since 1967. Women can choose low-dose pills, hormonal rings, implants and intrauterine devices — effective methods that can be less disruptive to normal menstrual cycles. Men have far fewer options, but that may eventually change. A long-acting gel injected into 16 adult male rhesus monkeys’ reproductive tracts completely prevented pregnancy in their partners over one to two breeding periods. The gel works like a vasectomy but is less invasive and can be reversed more easily, researchers report February 7 in Basic and Clinical Andrology.