By the Blouin News Science & Health staff

Contraceptive research in U.S. heats up

by in Medicine, Research.

(Source: Sexy Eggs/flickr)

(Source: Sexy Eggs/flickr)

Wednesday’s news that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is relaxing the requirements for taking medication that induces abortion is already setting off a firestorm of debate inside an issue that is possibly the most fraught, heated one in the U.S. The F.D.A.’s expansion of access to the “abortion pill” — or the drug mifepristone — is designed to reduce the number of trips women have to make to a doctor from three to two in most states, increase the number of days a woman has to be able to use medication to induce abortion from 49 to 70 after the beginning of her last menstrual period, and reduces the dosage of the drug from 600 milligrams to 200.

As is evidenced by headlines from self-dubbed pro-life news outlet, the anti-abortion world is on the news like a moth to a flame. But it might have its hands full this week as more contraceptive news has emerged, and it’s not for women.

A male birth control treatment Vasalgel has passed another trial, having successfully controlled fertility in rabbits. Researchers note that the trial was even more successful than anticipated. The fully reversible treatment has shown that one injection can deliver safe, effective contraception to males for at least 12 months, and human trials are planned for later this year. Reports say Vasalgel could come to market as early as 2018 if everything goes according to plan, and it would mark the first reversible contraception for males since the condom.

Additionally, last week researchers pondered a unisex birth control drug that interferes with the interaction between female hormones and sperm’s protein receptors that would aim to disable the sperm’s ability to penetrate the egg. Researchers say that either partner could take a drug to block sperm from recognizing progesterone, and would become a unisex birth control solution. That possibility is still very much a ways off. But it is clear that while female-geared contraceptives remain front-page, and hot button topics, the male contraceptive industry is gaining steam.