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A new article (Matzuk et. al., 2012; open access) just published in the scientific journal Cell documents the discovery of a new contraceptive - a small molecule named JQ1 that binds to the protein BRDT.

What makes this contraceptive very unique is who it's targeted for - males.

Contraceptives have sadly been a hot-button issue lately, especially with the emergence of an emboldened extremist political group known as the Tea Party.  

The overwhelming ignorance of conservatives and religious extremists in regard to the science and medicine of contraceptives has certainly played a major role in suddenly allowing this issue to come up for debate again, even decades after Griswold v. Connecticut.  But despite that, I think the paramount reason that contraceptives are suddenly target number one of the right wing is because of the sex that uses them.  (hint - as of now, 100% women)

Follow me below the Great Orange Croissant for a quick scientific lesson about how current contraceptives work, a summary of this newly discovered contraceptive targeted for males (and why it's such a major scientific discovery), and the implications this new drug has for readjusting the political paradigm in regard to contraceptives and overall reproductive rights.

Attempts at contraception have been around in various forms for over thousands of years.  However, I will focus on the modern era of birth control, which in the United States begins in the 1910s with Margaret Sanger's tireless efforts.  Sanger advocated for the use of contraceptives commonly referred to as "barriers", such as condoms, diaphragms, and cervical caps.  These contraceptives, as their category name suggests, aim to prevent sperm from traveling past the cervix into the fallopian tubes, where sperm encounters and fertilizes the oocyte.

These methods, while extremely pioneering for their time, have quite a high failure rate.  And the barrier method with the lowest fail rate - the condom - is essentially a male-controlled contraceptive; in which I mean that the male decides whether or not to use it, despite any protests his partner may have.

The second breakthrough for contraceptives occurred in the 1960s, when the first hormonal contraceptive was FDA approved and marketed for the general public.

Hormonal contraceptives work by tricking the female's body into thinking it's pregnant, even when it is not.  Since during actual pregnancy no new oocytes are released from the ovary, a woman using hormonal contraceptives will not release oocytes, and thus have no egg to be fertilized, even by sperm that enters the vagina and passes through the cervix.  Additionally, in case an oocyte is still released, hormonal contraceptives prevent implantation of the fertilized zygote into the uterine wall, which is a requirement for pregnancy.

Importantly this type of new medicine, now commonly referred to as "The Pill", finally put the control of contraception into the hands of women.  This was an incredibly empowering development for women and truly began to fulfill the mission of Sanger and others from the 1910s, which was to free poor women from the physical and financial burden of unwanted pregnancy.

This above reason is, I believe, exactly why prominent conservatives and religious fanatics - almost all of whom are male - are adamant about attacking contraceptives.

One of the things that was completely glossed over, in my opinion, during the entire Sandra Fluke attack saga was the type of contraceptives that were being targeted for attack.  Ms. Fluke was verbally assaulted by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Christian fundamentalist leaders for standing up for "The Pill" (aka "female contraception").  But did you hear a peep from out any of them following reports that 100,000 condoms (aka "male contraception") would be distributed to Olympic athletes during the 2012 Summer Games?

By the way, in case your math is rusty, that's 10 condoms per olympic athlete.  Including females in the total!  So it's actually more like 20 condoms per male athlete.  For a time period of no more than three weeks.

Now who's the sluts?

Before I get back to the political and societal impacts of a small-molecule male contraceptive, I want to quickly talk about the science of such a contraceptive, and why this new discovery is such a big deal.

Pharmaceutical male contraceptives have been desired for a long period of time.  However, the hormonal mechanism of tricking the female body into thinking it's pregnant (which actually is not so difficult) obviously does not exist for males.  One theoretical possibility is to prevent spermatogenesis, but that would involve preventing cell proliferation, and up until this point the pharmaceutical compounds that have such a function act predominantly on a global scale (which means a lot of undesired side effects, most notably a severe depletion of red blood cells and immune cells, which are produced on the order of millions per second).

Enter JQ1, a newly discovered small molecule that specifically targets spermatogenesis.  Here's some background on how it works:

Bromodomain testes-specific protein (BRDT) is a chromatin-associated protein that is expressed only in testes, and only during spermatogenesis.  BRDT is known to modify histone proteins (specifically at acetylated lysine residues), which are proteins that help coil DNA.  Importantly, mice genetically engineered to have no BRDT gene (termed "knock outs") are infertile, which means that BRDT is critical for gamete formation.  As the authors point out in their Introduction section, "These insights establish a compelling rationale to target BRDT for a contraceptive effect."

MaleContraceptiveFigure1B

The authors then undertook a small molecule screen of acetylated lysine analogs in an attempt to find a competitive inhibitor for BRDT, and their screen identified a small molecule called JQ1.  After identifying a potent chemical inhibitor for BRDT, the authors investigated whether chemical inhibition of BRDT had any physiological effect.  Since the previous study mentioned above showed that deletion of the BRDT gene renders male mice infertile, the authors were reasonable in hypothesizing that chemical inhibition of BRDT would have the same effects.

The authors then performed several pharmacological assays to assess the physiological effects of JQ1 on spermatogenesis.  JQ1 treatment for 6 weeks reduced the size of the testes by just below 60%, and this significant decrease in testis volume corresponded with a significant decrease in sperm count.  Importantly, male sex hormone levels are unaffected, which would help to reduce any potential side effects that could have been possible.  As the authors state, "Thus, JQ1 effects are specific to germ cells and do not alter hormone-dependent processes."

Matzuk_Fig3

As a brief note, chromatin-associated proteins as usually involved in regulating gene expression.  Thus, the authors performed a gene expression microarray to determine the effect of JQ1-mediated BRDT inhibition on gene expression.  The data show a drastic down-regulation of hundreds of genes, including many expressed during spermatogenesis.  Interestingly, JQ1 has been used as an anti-cancer drug for cancers caused by genetic mutations in BRDT-like proteins; thus, JQ1 has potent anti-mitotic (aka cell division) properties.  In this light, it makes sense that JQ1 can inhibit spermatogenesis so well, considering that gamete formation is one of the most proliferative processes in the male body.

Finally, of utmost importance is the reversibility of JQ1's contraceptive properties.  Thankfully, the authors demonstrate convincingly that things go back to normal after JQ1 is discontinued.  Mice treated with a high dose of JQ1 were able to sire pups after only three months off the drug, and testis mass and sperm count both rebounded back to 100% within two months following stoppage of the contraceptive.  Finally, as you can see from box "K", the little mousies (haha, the one silly term I use) are of normal size and exhibit normal behavior.  As the authors conclude, "Together, these findings indicate that JQ1 did not have any long-term transgenerational effects on testis physiology or reproductive capacity...  These data support JQ1 as the first contraceptive agent that selectively and reversibly targets the male germ cell."

MaleContraceptiveFigure7

Obviously these experiments were done on mice, however, as the authors write in their final sentence, "Because human and mouse BRDT proteins are highly conserved and have nearly identical bromodomain pockets based on our structural predictions, we envision that our discoveries can be completely translated to men, providing a novel and efficacious strategy for a male contraceptive."

As a cell and molecular biologist, I find the science extremely fascinating and thorough.  However, I also understand the hardened reality that politics and religious fanaticism seem to be driving the debate about contraception currently ongoing.

I am very intrigued as to what the responses from conservatives and fundamentalists would be in regard to an FDA approved contraceptive for males.  If I had to guess, I would say their response would be largely muted, similar to the crickets we heard in regard to the Olympic Village making 100,000 condoms available to athletes.  Because like condoms, JQ1 is a male-targeted contraceptive.  And as we all know here, the outrage from conservatives and fundamentalists really isn't about the science or medicine of contraception; we know this because they are consistently wrong about the science, like calling the morning-after pill the "abortion pill", even though it's simply a mega-dose of current hormonal contraceptives that prevent implantation of the fertilized zygote.

Conservatives are against female-controlled birth control because it empowers freedom for women; freedom from unwanted pregnancy that often binds a woman to a devastating financial situation, or worse yet, an abusive partner.  When conservatives talk about "traditional family values", they don't just mean a world free from homosexuality, they also mean a world where women are subservient to men, where we qualify definitions of rape solely for the reason to maintain absolute power for men while simultaneously crushing women beneath the proverbial steel-toed boots.

That is why the fight for Obamacare to cover birth control at 100% is so vital to our national health policy.  It's much more than just sound medical policy.  It's about empowering women to take reproductive rights into their own hands; it's about reprogramming our society to push forward a massive shift of the contraceptive burden toward having men take equal responsibility in their sexual relationships with their partners.  And one that hopefully won't be stigmatized itself and can help reduce the hypocrisy against female hormonal contraceptives.

Thankfully, this "debate" on "The Pill" is thought to be so ludicrous by my fellow mid-20s peers - both women and men - that I feel we just have to hold on through this temporary dark period to get to an enlightened time of sound family planning policy that's good for the planet and good for reaching true equality.

The floor is yours.

Originally posted to mconvente on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:44 PM PDT.

Also republished by Science Matters and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I have to head to bed now (7+ / 0-)

      But I will catch up in the morning and afternoon tomorrow in the comments (assuming there will be some to catch up to!)

      There is one major societal and medical implication of a small-molecule male contraceptive that I did not discuss in the original diary text, but if someone else brings it up in the comments, I will gladly contribute to that discussion point.

      Hopefully this can pick up some steam from the west coast Kossacks.  My best writing usually comes at night time in the east coast, after which most people are probably asleep by the time I publish!  ha

      #RomneyRyan2012: Because one white, rich, male Republican asshole is never enough.

      by mconvente on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:09:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Is BRDT related to the DAZ family of genes? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FarWestGirl

        And if it attacks chromatin remodeling, does it have a potential implication either as a carcinogen or a cancer therapy?

        "Democracy is only real if we all participate" -- Bea Bookler, 94 year-old voter disenfranchised by Voter-ID

        by 8ackgr0und N015e on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:14:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Very interesting article. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, Vatexia, lgmcp

    I can hear the questions - is it a permanent change or not?

    I can also hear the pseudo thologians pointing out that the OT prohibitions of onanism become relevant. IIRC, Onanism was spilling male seed on the ground, we might call it something in the masturbation line,  and not using it solely for the purpose posited to be intended, because the thought was that a man only had a finite number and did have the obligation to reproduce his own family. Therefore spilling them on the ground was a waste of a finite asset given by God to men for a very specific purpose. Do we need to say fertility was a continuing problem in Davidic times, at least in the Holy Land, before it became the Holy Land?

    •  The specific context of Onan's 'sin' (6+ / 0-)

      was refusing to impregnate his dead brother's wife, not the literal act of spilling his seed. His sin was disobedience. The biblical case for connecting the Onan story with masturbation has always been shaky at best - the masturbation prohibition is more about Christians being squicked out by sexual pleasure.

      Now, there might be a solid theological argument that a married man who uses contraception to keep from impregnating his wife (assuming she wanted children) would be guilty of the sin of Onan. That's something for Christian men to figure out.

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 06:12:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Does that sin also apply (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, Translator

        to reluctant sperm donors?

        Couldn't we make a case that all men should just be sperm donors to lesbian couples?

        (I'm honestly not sure how much of this is snark and how much of it is a real question, cuz it overlaps).

        Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

        by a gilas girl on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 06:32:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If I can give a serious answer... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          a gilas girl, FarWestGirl, Translator

          that's highly doubtful, because I don't think there's a serious argument to be made that any man has a duty to impregnate any woman who's not his wife (or sister-in-law, I suppose, in a society that still practices levirate marriage).

          "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

          by kyril on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 06:37:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But there's the waste argument... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lgmcp, Translator

            I know, but all of this hinges on the religious/patriarchal assumption that wives are husband's property, no matter how many of them you have.

            Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

            by a gilas girl on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 06:40:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well, yes... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Translator, sagesource

              I didn't say I agreed with any of it. As an atheist, I think it's all silly.

              "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

              by kyril on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 06:44:09 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Monty Python comes to mind (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Margd, Translator, splashy, triplepoint

              ♬  Every sperm is sacred ... ♬

              I think the item that will scare men is this:

              JQ1 treatment for 6 weeks reduced the size of the testes by just below 60%
              (emphasis added)

              So, from having "balls", you'll have peanuts.  Even though it's reversible, I would expect the most common reaction to be AAAARRRGGGHHHHH!

              I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

              by tle on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 06:55:45 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  What "side effects" have.... (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Odysseus, FarWestGirl, Translator, splashy

                ....women had to suffer using hormonal Birth Control over the years?  This dodges the question of men being as responsible for pregnancy as women.

                IMHO if this drug doubled the size of the penis and acted like the fun little blue pills there may be hope of them using it.  

                Otherwise....  Not so much!

                Discuss!

                "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." - Edmund Burke

                by CyberDem on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:11:11 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well... (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  yuriwho, FarWestGirl, Translator, kyril

                  ...I know that some women have significant and problematic side effects from the pill. However, every woman that I've dated that has been on birth control pills (a smallish sample size, sure) has been taking them for the side effects, and the birth control part was simply a nice bonus.

                  I'm going to go out on a limb and say that there aren't many men who would take these for the side effects.

                  •  Birth Control Pills.... (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Translator, splashy

                    ....have been linked to higher incidence of cancer, particularly breast cancer, blood clots and other things that can seriously affect their health and indeed the life of women.  

                    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." - Edmund Burke

                    by CyberDem on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 01:11:12 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  They do have some serious (0+ / 0-)

                    side effects, rare, but serious when they occur.  Heart problems are not that uncommon, and some cancers can be exacerbated by them.  They are powerful drugs, and need to be taken with caution.

                    Warmest regards,

                    Doc

                    I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

                    by Translator on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:44:57 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  "Huh?" (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  FarWestGirl

                  I don't think I was dodging the question.  I was ignoring it.  I suspect the majority of men would react the same way.   Rather than thinking, "what will we do to prevent a pregnancy?",  I'd expect a chorus of "Why are you trying to steal my manhood?".

                  BTW,  I'll take a years supply of that drug you mentioned.  :-)

                  I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

                  by tle on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 02:14:18 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Reduction of testicle size is also a side effect (0+ / 0-)

                of steroids used (illegally) by athletes and bodybuilders.  Not considered a deterrent apparently.

                Real plastic here; none of that new synthetic stuff made from chicken feathers. By the morning of 9/12/2001 the people of NYC had won the War on Terror.

                by triplepoint on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 05:03:16 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Actually it is... (0+ / 0-)

                  and one of the most effective deterrents. That and the gynecomastia.

                  "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

                  by kyril on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 08:34:22 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Precious bodily fluids (0+ / 0-)

              I think the idea of conserving vital energy in all of its forms, and channeling it towards approved aims, is a deeply-ingrained one, and recurs across many cultures.

              It's not JUST sexual shame or repression, though certainly taboos around sexual behavior also have deep roots.  It also touches on issues of mental, spiritual, societal discipline and will-power.

              "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

              by lgmcp on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:24:24 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  No one is anyone's property! (0+ / 0-)

              But two that love each other transcend that, and become somehow the property of each other, as a couple.  Souls meld when things are right, and two become one.  It is not a property thing, but a soul thing.

              Warmest regards,

              Doc

              I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

              by Translator on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:42:05 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  I have chosen not to donate, (0+ / 0-)

          for several reasons.

          First, I am too ugly and stupid to make a contribution.

          Second, it is usually anonymous, and it makes it extremely difficult to look up family health history.  That is the problem that I have now with The Girl.  She has almost no idea about her biological parents, and she has some serious health issues.  That makes it hard to deconvolute what is wrong with her, but you know that I will NEVER give up on her!

          Third, I would want to see and rejoice in my offspring, and that would not be possible if I were a donor.

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

          I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

          by Translator on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:38:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The results suggest it is completely reversible (5+ / 0-)

      "Democracy is only real if we all participate" -- Bea Bookler, 94 year-old voter disenfranchised by Voter-ID

      by 8ackgr0und N015e on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:14:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very good article. (8+ / 0-)

    I have only a basic background in science since my major and post graduate work was all in the humanities, but I appreciate that your explanations were all quite easy to follow in a smoothly constructed exposition.  And I did like the insertion of "mousies" which was cute.

    I do still have some difficulty understanding the tendency of men to want to exert control over and denigrate women is so many ways.  It's one of those things that's so foreign to me that I simply can't identify.  I can understand that fundamentalists hold that view, but that other men can more or less go along with it is disconcerting at best.

    If the new form of male contraception is approved, it will be interesting to see how quickly and widely it is used.  I anticipate an initial reaction against it because of societal mindsets based on tradition and fear.  Almost certainly all sorts of myths about its impact on genitalia and performance, being less of a man, etc., regardless of the truth.

    99%er. 100% opposed to fundamentalist/neoconservative/neoliberal oligarchs.

    by blueoasis on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:26:04 PM PDT

    •  The War on Women (6+ / 0-)

      I too have wondered what the republicans gain by attacking women and women's reproductive biology.  After all, there must be women among the GOP voters, and they can't really win elections without women votes, right?

      Here are my hypotheses about why the conservatives attack women.

      1) The dedicated base of the republican party (i.e. The Tea Party) is strongly racist and misogynistic.  The conservative base wants and supports the war on women.

      2) The conservative voter is strongly attached to their religious beliefs, and mainstream religious dogma holds that women exist to serve the men.

      3) Sex outside of marriage is by its nature a liberal endeavor.  Even tho' the vast majority of conservatives engage in this same behavior, the conservatives still view it as "wrong", "evil", "unnatural", etc., and that behavior should be punished - by forcing the liberal fornicator to undergo a vaginal probe, or forced pregnancy and birth.  Of course, the conservative fornicator should be excused any ot those punishments because the conservative fornicator is basically a good guy ("I'm for family values!") who made a momentary and very human mistake, quite outside their normal and moral behavior.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 06:58:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And indeed, the Bible shows them the way . . (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, Translator, splashy

        They look to the stories of the patriarchs and movers and shakers of the Old Testament, and see that powerful men had multiple wives and concubines.  And of course no conservative man thinks of himself as less than powerful, potent, a patriarch.  It's just patriarch's right, they say to themselves, that they should "possess" multiple women as objects for their enjoyment.

        But not for the betas, the little men, the nonbelievers.  Denying them these "privileges" is another way they would "wussify" the "others" that aren't like them.

        Running throughout their sordid storyline is the assumption that liberal men are less than male, "wusses", "pussies", "gay" even if they are actually attracted to women, "sissies".  In fact even among the believers, anyone low on their totem pole is considered as such.

        And even the highest of "their" believing women is lower than the lowest of the "other" liberal wuss men in their worldview.

        Ask me again why I don't invest any effort into cultivating Bible-faith.

      •  Nice catches! (0+ / 0-)

        All that I can say is that I love a woman that the Republicans would not like much.  She does not vote!  LOL!

        Warmest regards,

        Doc

        I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

        by Translator on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:58:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Hi! You know me from my blogs. (0+ / 0-)

      Here is what my love and I did today.

      She texted me this morning to come and see her and her lovely daughter, and we talked and laughed on her front porch.  I brought OUR kitten to visit her daughter.  She is not of my loins, but I love her little girl as my own.

      Later she had to go to the doctor to check on her, then she came back.  She called me to tell me that she was home and wanted me to come and visit her.  Since she is just next door, that was easy.

      The Little Girl was not feeling very well, so I left and allowed the mum and daughter bond to form more, and sure enough, she asked me to come and visit with her after The Little Girl went to sleep.

      Finally, we made plans to see each other tomorrow night an bake a cake.

      I have no need for male contraceptives at present, but I think that they should be available and cheap.  I just do not dick anyone that I do not love these days!  But I DO want to have another child with her, if she agrees to marry me someday.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:55:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Awesome diary :) (9+ / 0-)

    Thank you for succinctly describing this study and putting it in historical/political context.  Well done!  There are some advantages for a man to use a pill rather than a wrapper, and the disadvantage is the potential spread of infection for those who stop wearing condoms.  If this eventually passes clinical trials, I doubt that many men would take the prescription.  Pregnancy/family planning is considered a "woman's problem" in the eyes of many, for shame! Birth control has empowered both women and young couples.  My husband and I would not have furthered our education if we had children soon after marriage.  Birth control = healthy, happy, financially prepared families.

    Bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don't vote. William E. Simon

    by TEMkitty on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:39:33 PM PDT

    •  Well, it's not just that... (10+ / 0-)
      Pregnancy/family planning is considered a "woman's problem" in the eyes of many, for shame!
      ...in fact, I don't think I know a single guy who wouldn't be all over a contraceptive pill if the side effects were acceptable. If such a pill existed, they wouldn't be able to keep it on the shelves. (Maybe it's just my generation and younger, but guys are f'ing terrified of getting someone pregnant.)

      In this particular case, though, they might have a hard time selling something that's going to shrink your balls. Sad, I know, but...

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 06:17:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed about fears of getting someone pregnant (6+ / 0-)

        I definitely share that fear, and I'm 25 if that puts my generation into perspective.

        I'm also the twin brother of the diarist, for full disclosure.

      •  I would personally be wary of believing that a guy (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator, splashy

        was 'on the pill'. I've heard guys talking among themselves about lying to women about being infertile or having had vasectomies. It was like they were getting away with something, hoping that they'd have a kid out there that they didn't have to be responsible for. The decrease in testicular size would be good for that, if nothing else, as a telltale.

        Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

        by FarWestGirl on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:37:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's true, but I'd like it as an additional (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril

          safeguard.  Even if my partner is on female birth control, the extra protection woul be nice.

          It's not a replacement for women using birth control if they want to be sure. That's why we would still have both :-)

      •  They should want it. (0+ / 0-)

        But I have the experience to know just to back off until commitment is there now.

        Warmest regards,

        Doc

        I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

        by Translator on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 11:02:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for the comments (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp, saluda, FarWestGirl, Translator

      The issue about spreading infection is the one issue I did not cover in the diary, but alluded to in my comments last night.

      If men feel there is no need to wear condoms, then the rate of infections transmitted through intercourse will skyrocket.  Is that a bigger health issue than preventing unwanted pregnancies?  I'd actually say yes, though you could argue each side valiantly.

      #RomneyRyan2012: Because one white, rich, male Republican asshole is never enough.

      by mconvente on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 06:58:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  STDs. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lgmcp, Translator, splashy

        While the spread of disease is a serious risk, I am not sure it is to the point of the conversation as it's the same risk as the Pill.  Men (afaik!) don't tend to use condoms when they're with a woman who's on the pill.

        “In the Soviet Union, capitalism triumphed over communism. In this country, capitalism triumphed over democracy.” - Fran Lebowitz

        by Aramis Wyler on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:14:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Please look at my database. (0+ / 0-)

        STDs are covered there, and you will find that I advocate both sexes to get the HPV vaccine.

        Warmest regards,

        Doc

        I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

        by Translator on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 11:05:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's equal parts (7+ / 0-)

    scary and good. Good because we've waited so long for equal participation in the responsibility for birth control, and scary because I can see the possibility of certain groups trying to legislate away women's contraception in favor of men's, and then we'd be right back where we started.

    It does look like people are waking up to the reality of what is being proposed and legislated.

    "Lady, that baby couldn't possibly be mine. I raped you." Magic ladyparts strike again.

    by LaraJones on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:40:49 PM PDT

  •  Very interesting article (7+ / 0-)

    I think there was a typo about the "fertility" of the mice when first mentioning this molecule but later it is clear the mice are infertile.  

    I really can't imagine this working socially.  First off, not sure if men are willing to take this pill if it makes their "balls" smaller.  There is a manhood issue here.  The only thing that might make it work is if women only have sex with men that have small balls.  I don't mean that as a joke although it sounds rather stupid.  The issue in my mind is what assurance do women have that the man is shooting blanks.  The woman is the one who gets pregnant, not the man.  She is the one that has little choice in raising the kid if born.  The woman can file a paternity suit if the man objects, but that is about it.  When a woman takes the pill, she is taking control of her own reproductive rights.  There is no physical impact to the man if she does or doesn't take the pill.  The man might be able to claim that he was assured the woman was taking the pill so if she gets pregnant, it is her fault.  

    Maybe this can be sold to men to assure them that their reproductive rights are in their control.  If both the man and the woman take the appropriate pill and they use a condom, they are both assured that no pregnancy will result (there is probably still a small chance, but it would probably be 0.01% or less, I'm assuming).  Married couples could use this as sometimes women have bad reactions to the pill.  

    I think this is an interesting prospect for the young crowd.  I've had my offspring and am satisfied that no more are in the future.  Now if they make a pill (advertised with two bath tubs of all strange things) that doesn't give me a headache, I'd be a happy camper.  Not tonight, I've got a headache.  Shoe is on other foot now.

    "War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength", George Orwell, "1984" -7.63 -5.95

    by dangoch on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:20:58 AM PDT

    •  This is the key (5+ / 0-)
      Maybe this can be sold to men to assure them that their reproductive rights are in their control.
      and the reason why men want a pill.

      You know, it's not just men who lie about, forget, or otherwise screw up their contraception...and while obviously it's the woman who has to cope with a pregnancy's impact on her body, men have to cope with the economic and social impacts of pregnancy too. And unlike women, men have no 'take-backs' after sex.

      I'm serious, if it weren't for the ball-shrinking issue, this stuff would sell out faster than iPhones.

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 06:22:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Though, as the paper shows, it's reversible (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, FarWestGirl, Translator

        The testis size returns to full 100% normal within three months following stoppage of the drug.

        It will be hard to argue that fact during marketing and recommendations for usage, or course, but at least it's not a permanent reduction in size.

        #RomneyRyan2012: Because one white, rich, male Republican asshole is never enough.

        by mconvente on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:00:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Who really notices (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FarWestGirl, splashy

          the size of someone else's testes? It's true, half the normal size is kinda weird, but it might make "the rest of the package" look bigger by comparison.

           I never heard anyone say, "well the frank is small, but check out those beans!"

        •  Marketing would have to include women (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mconvente, Translator, splashy

          articulating that it was attractive or appealing in some way to get things rolling.

          OTOH, anabolic steroid use causes permanent shrinkage and sterility, so it's at least familiar and better than something already out there and known. The comparison would probably be useful.

          Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

          by FarWestGirl on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:01:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  A few comments (10+ / 0-)
    What makes this contraceptive very unique is who it's targeted for - males.
    This is not unique, as there have been hormonal approaches to male contraception developed and tested. Look at Bremner's work, or Handelsman's, for examples. (Something is unique or it isn't. There are no grades of uniqueness.)
    However, the hormonal mechanism of tricking the female body into thinking it's pregnant (which actually is not so difficult) obviously does not exist for males.  One theoretical possibility is to prevent spermatogenesis, but that would involve preventing cell proliferation, and up until this point the pharmaceutical compounds that have such a function act predominantly on a global scale (which means a lot of undesired side effects, most notably a severe depletion of red blood cells and immune cells, which are produced on the order of millions per second).
    This is incorrect. The brain can be tricked into acting as though the testes have enough testosterone, which is required for spermatogenesis, by increasing the concentration of testosterone or a derivative of it (plus some progesterone) in the blood (testosterone for spermatogenesis is made in the testes; testosterone in the blood does not enter the testes and does not stimulate spermatogenesis). This shuts off testosterone production in the testes through downregulation of stimulating hormones produced in the brain. You do not have to inhibit cell proliferation all over the body to inhibit sperm production. Existing hormonal contraception works pretty well in east Asian men, not so well in others, iirc. As far as I know, anemia has not been a side effect.
    Importantly, mice genetically engineered to have no BRDT gene (termed "knock outs") are fertile, which means that BRDT is critical for gamete formation.
    For this to make sense, the knockouts would have to be infertile. Typo.
    Interestingly, JQ1 has been used as an anti-cancer drug for cancers caused by genetic mutations in BRDT-like proteins; thus, JQ1 has potent anti-mitotic (aka cell division) properties.  In this light, it makes sense that JQ1 can inhibit spermatogenesis so well, considering that gamete formation is one of the most proliferative processes in the male body.
    The paper demonstrates that JQ1 is not working by inhibiting mitosis, but by inhibiting later stages of sperm development.

    Though described as testis-specific, BRDT mRNA at least has been detected in normal human brain, albeit at lower levels than in testis. Women take the Pill because they view the consequences of unwanted pregnancy as worse than the Pill's side effects. I'm male and would probably never use a chemical contraceptive unless it had a very well understood and simple, specific mechanism.

    Across fertile men there are huge variations in normal sperm counts. To replace barrier methods or the Pill, a chemical contraceptive for men has to reliably reduce those counts to levels that allow as few or fewer unwanted pregnancies than the other methods, and be safe when used for months or years at a time.

    The market for chemical contraceptives for men is mostly stable/married monogamous couples, where disease transmission is not a concern.

    •  Not necessarily true (5+ / 0-)
      The market for chemical contraceptives for men is mostly stable/married monogamous couples, where disease transmission is not a concern.
      Is the market for hormonal contraceptives for women mostly stable/married monogamous couples? No. Why? Well, there is rape, but that's not the primary concern for most women. The primary concern is that mistakes happen and condoms break.

      Men also know that mistakes happen and condoms break. And that some women will go to extraordinary lengths to get pregnant with or without a man's consent. And that men have absolutely zero control over what happens to their genetic material after it's released. They know all of these things, and it scares the crap out of them, and is one of the many roots of male hostility to women's reproductive rights.

      The market for a male contraceptive is any man who doesn't want to get someone pregnant. Which includes, obviously, some monogamous men...but it also includes a whole hell of a lot of nonmonogamous men.

      And this:

      To replace barrier methods or the Pill, a chemical contraceptive for men has to reliably reduce those counts to levels that allow as few or fewer unwanted pregnancies than the other methods
      is true, but off the mark. The key is that a male contraceptive pill is desirable whether or not it can replace the female Pill, because any level of risk reduction is good. Even if it were only 50% effective, I know probably dozens of guys who'd be lining up around the block for it...provided the side effects were acceptable.

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 06:34:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  A few response comments (8+ / 0-)

      I'm a very literal person, so when I type or say something, I literally am restricting my thoughts to what I type/say.

      So when I write "However, the hormonal mechanism of tricking the female body into thinking it's pregnant (which actually is not so difficult) obviously does not exist for males.", I mean that in its exact, literal sense; men cannot get pregnant, so a hormonal method to trick men into getting pregnant doesn't exist.

      I didn't comment about other potential methods that male hormonal contraception can work, which you included in your comment.

      In regard to being unique, this method is unique for the exact reason is that it is not a hormonal contraceptive.  Look at the second image in the main diary text, specifically K, L, and M.  The drug JQ1 has no significant effect on hormone levels in mice.

      Fixed the typo, thanks.

      Later stages of sperm development involve cell proliferation, albeit those spermatocytes are themselves haploid at the time; however, these haploid cells are still dividing to produce additional haploid gametes.  As the authors write, "Histological examination established a JQ1-dependent decrease in the amount and number of tubules that had obvious and abundant round spermatids and spermatozoa in the lumen."

      #RomneyRyan2012: Because one white, rich, male Republican asshole is never enough.

      by mconvente on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:13:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator

        You wrote:

        What makes this contraceptive very unique is who it's targeted for - males.
        I pointed out that that statement is incorrect. Other contraceptives have been developed for men.
      •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FarWestGirl, Translator
        Later stages of sperm development involve cell proliferation, albeit those spermatocytes are themselves haploid at the time; however, these haploid cells are still dividing to produce additional haploid gametes.
        No, haploid cells do not proliferate in the human testis.  

        Diploid spermatogonia divide multiple times before meiosis to make more spermatogonia for stem cell replacement and mostly to make cells that become diploid spermatocytes and eventually enter meiosis, which involves one round of DNA replication and two rounds of cell division. The products are haploid round spermatids, which do not divide but go on to develop into mature sperm (this is called spermiogenesis). This last process, in which the cell's DNA condenses and the tail forms, is what is inhibited by JQ1.

  •  If there was a male equivilent of the BC pill, (9+ / 0-)

    I'd take it.

    One of the more promising male birth control methods is the one where they needle your crotch and put glue in there or something, and I'm not going to have a doctor stick a needle in there.

    Or there is the vasectomy, and after reading about "phantom crotch pains," I'm not interested in having that done either.

    A pill sounds a lot better.

  •  Egad, let's hope Greenpeace doesn't find (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator

    out this and try to ban it.  After all, it IS one of those evil, evil chlorinated molecules . . .. .

  •  I forgot honey... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, FarWestGirl, Translator, splashy

    Even if they come out with a "man's pill" would you actually trust a man to take the responsibility to take the pill?  I can hear it now...honey can you take out the garbage? "I'll get to it right after the game dear". Did you take your pill today? "I'll get to it right after I wash the car honey". They would have to come up with a test for the man to take prior to sex to prove that they actually took the pill.

  •  I just want to know if the repubs... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mconvente, lgmcp, Translator, splashy, LeftyAce

    would allow insurance companies to pay for it without a copay!!  Then we would surely be on equal ground!!

  •  If this doesn't work, a male chastity belt might (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator

    be the appropriate payback, depending on who is in charge of the key.

    Interesting diary.  Thank you.

    I play for keeps. Kindness, Equality, Enlightenment, Peace, and Sustainability.

    by QDMacaw on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:08:50 AM PDT

  •  An excellent discussion, thank you (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mconvente, FarWestGirl, splashy

    and the detailed review of the science particularly appreciated.  A very promising approach indeed.  

    Now, as the particulars ...

    JQ1 treatment for 6 weeks reduced the size of the testes by just below 60%, and this significant decrease in testis volume corresponded with a significant decrease in sperm count.  Importantly, male sex hormone levels are unaffected, which would help to reduce any potential side effects that could have been possible ...  Mice treated with a high dose of JQ1 were able to sire pups after only three months off the drug, and testis mass and sperm count both rebounded back to 100% within two months following stoppage of the contraceptive.
    I could foresee social acceptance problems around this, given our traditional association that the bigger the cojones, the manlier their owner.  On the other hand, reduced scrotal size with sexual function otherwise unimpaired, could eventually become a status marker in and of itself.  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:19:37 AM PDT

    •  Huh, you could go for the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp

      "smaller testes = a dude who gets around." (since it means he's on bc).  And since, rightly or wrongly, guys getting around is seen more often as something to be admired than when it's a women "getting around" that could work as far as marketing...

  •  A major problem with this and other male pills (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mconvente, FarWestGirl, Translator

    is that they shrink the testes and this is a marketing problem for these pills.

    Great diary though.

    You could be listening to Netroots Radio. "We are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place" <- Me

    by yuriwho on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:49:56 PM PDT

  •  Is it at all surprising (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, splashy

    that while hormone based contraception for women is under attack right and ultra-right, that the pharma companies have finally decided they'd better develop a male hormone-based contraceptive and right spritely about it?

    Not so much.  If the radical fringe gains more ground, they will be out of a lucrative hunk of business.

    Kathleen Sebelius 2016

    by pvlb on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 04:45:32 PM PDT

  •  All well and good but ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FarWestGirl

    the only way most males will take the pill is if women grind them up and dissolve them in their beer.

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

    by Neuroptimalian on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 04:47:43 PM PDT

  •  It makes your nuts SHRINK? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FarWestGirl

    I'm sure that will go over well.

    -9.00, -5.85
    If only stupidity were painful...

    by Wintermute on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 05:35:42 PM PDT

  •  It may work... but it won't be effective. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bubbajim, FarWestGirl, Translator

    What sane woman would believe a man who says, "Yeah, Baby, don't worry... I'm on the pill"?

    DEGLOBALIZE THE AMERICAN ECONOMY!

    by Jimdotz on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 06:00:14 PM PDT

    •  hence: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Translator

      "The market for chemical contraceptives for men is mostly stable/married monogamous couples, where disease transmission is not a concern."

    •  yeah. It would be aweful if a women had to (0+ / 0-)

      fall for the same trick many have played on men to get pregnant and then treat the man like a piggy bank.

      •  Better to be treated like a piggy bank (0+ / 0-)

        Than like a host for something inside your body, sucking what it needs regardless of how it hurts you.

        Pregnancy is actually a bit creepy, if you think about it. Someone else growing inside of you, sucking your life blood out of you, leaving you with what remains to live on, and possibly maiming and killing you in the process.

        Women create the entire labor force.

        by splashy on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 04:18:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Nobody has commented on (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mconvente, Translator

    The possible loss of libido. I didn't read the entire article but I imagine it might be difficult to measure this in mice (but maybe not). If it does have effects, it would be a non-starter. The drug doesn't affect levels of testosterone so maybe this isn't a huge concern, but it would be important to test this.

  •  Not really caring what the right thinks... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator

    The long-theorized "Male Pill" has never seemed like much of an advance to me.

    Basically, women should take control of their own reproductive futures and not trust potentially lying men anyway.

    Though an effective male pill could prove to be a superior solution for couples in long-term relationships if it has less side-effects than current birth control pills.

    But frankly, even that potential benefit is relatively unimportant compared to getting the FDA to FINALLY approve new, superior IUDs like they have in Europe, which do the same thing but give control to the woman.

  •  One ofthe big leapsforward is that it's reversible (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mconvente, Translator, splashy

    Raising the levels of any of the sex hormones can affect spermatogenesis, but most of those effects are fairly permanent. This is completely reversible.

    I'll be interested to hear how long it takes to flush out the residual sperm after starting the medication. With vasectomies it's a couple of months and I'm assuming the same would be true.

    Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

    by FarWestGirl on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:54:24 PM PDT

  •  Cue the Rethugs who will simultaneously... (3+ / 0-)

    Ban it for white males, and demand mandatory use for all minority males.

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:23:52 PM PDT

  •  This is a VERY nicely written piece! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mconvente

    Here are just a few random thoughts of mine.

    First, only females get pregnant. Otherwise, I see no different morality.

    Second, males need to be held to account when they impregnate females.  I did so three times, within the bounds of a loving and legal marriage.  I supported my family even before that, even though there was only my wife.

    Third, and this might sound very old fashioned, I have come to learn that the sex act can be either cheap and meaningless or very deeply, emotionally wonderful.  For way too many times too often I opted for the former.  Now I will wait forever for the latter.

    I guess that my bottom line is to say that friendship comes first, just being with each other and enjoying it comes next,  and finally, when both are ready, the ultimate expression of love comes, but with little cats' feet.

    Perhaps I am just too romantic, but I am deeply in love with a woman (just my orientation, with a different persona it might have been a man) who does not love me back as much as I would like, but she and I share hours together just talking, laughing, and, sometimes, in rare moments, holding deeply.

    Warmest regards,

    Doc

    I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

    by Translator on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:32:32 PM PDT

  •  I wouldn't point to Sanger as a positive role (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mconvente

    model. She wanted birth control only for black people for the expressed intent of clearly out the ghettos.

    •  She does have a troubled history (0+ / 0-)

      She's not a saint by any means, but she is the most well known advocate for birth control (at least she was even mentioned during my AP US History studies, back 9-10 years ago).

      #RomneyRyan2012: Because one white, rich, male Republican asshole is never enough.

      by mconvente on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 05:39:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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