There is a new male contraceptive drug in testing. It is unromantically called JQ1 and is playing havoc with the sperm production of laboratory mice. Similar to the ubiquitous birth control pill the sperm killing attribute of the medication can be turned off. The scientists developing JQ1 have seen no permanent damage to the fertility of mature mice dosed with the drug. They are confident that they can make the transition to adult male humans, giving the possibility of the first effective male contraceptive drug.
How Does JQ1 Work?
JQ1 is a protein blocker that halts sperm production in the male testes. Such a contraceptive treatment will be an important addition to the range of choice open to people. Given the current range of contraceptives and their nationwide accessibility it is very surprising that almost 1 in 3 pregnancies in America today are unintended.
Many doctors are sceptical about the usefulness of a male contraceptive because of the basic male psychology. It is anathema for men to strangle off sperms, even temporarily. There is little evidence that women even now have fully come to terms with the reversibility of the contraceptive pill. There is no doubt that some men will welcome the choice when it comes to reproduction and family planning. There are, for example a large number of men who choose to undergo an irreversible vasectomy in order to fulfil their responsibilities for birth control.
From the female point of view, many would share the sentiments expressed by a 25-year-old interviewee on TV news:
“If I were dating around, though, there’s no way I would trust someone who I’d been on just a few dates with [to take the pill]. I think for most men it just wouldn’t be a thought that crossed their mind — they’re worried about getting HIV or gonorrhoea, not having a screaming baby.”Â
An estimated 37% or nearly 1 in 4 children born in America each year are the outcome of unplanned pregnancies. This figure has remained steadfast since the early eighties in spite of the ubiquitous birth control pill. This is the official figure from the latest National Center for Health Statistics report, operating under the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The stubborn persistence of large numbers of unplanned pregnancies is no surprise to doctors generally, but it is a cause for concern and frustration because trying to prevent unintended births is becoming more difficult due to the changing demographics of childbirth.
The NCHS researchers interviewed over 12,000 women between â€˜06 and 2010. In 1982 two-thirds of all births were to white married women, the most reachable part of the population. That number is now down to just 43%. The report also showed clear demographic divides when it comes to unplanned pregnancies.
Only 23% of married women had unplanned children, whereas 50% of unmarried women in a live-in relationship had unintended children and 67% of single women had unplanned children. Almost 8 out of 10 teenage pregnancies were accidental, compared to 5 out 10 for those women in their early twenties and 1 in 4 for the over 25â€™s.
[box type=”important”]Educational attainment plays a big part in this social trend since 17% of women with a degree had unplanned children while the figure is 41% of women without even a high school diploma. [/box]