Triptonide, a natural compound found in a Chinese herb, works as a safe and effective male contraceptive in animal models.
A rising population possess multiple challenges for a community. Such as depletion of natural resources, climate change, and an increase in pandemics. Therefore, countries facing overpopulation often seek effective birth control methods. To not only avert the risk of a rising population, but also unplanned pregnancies. However, it seems the responsibility of preventing a pregnancy relies solely on women; a majority of birth control methods only target women. In contrast, male contraceptive options include a condom invented hundreds of years ago, and the invasive vasectomy. Both of which, men are often hesitant to employ.
In 2016, researchers abandoned a trial looking into effective male contraceptive options because of a concern for associated side-effects. The side-effects? Acne, mood swings, and changes in body weight. In comparison, female contraceptive pills can lead to nausea or vomiting, headaches, breast pain, weight gain, dizziness, vaginal infections, increased risk of some cancers, and much more.
Therefore, there is a need for an effective non-hormonal male contraceptive that will likely help men share some of the responsibility of preventing pregnancies.
No Toxic Side Effects
Triptonide is a natural compound found in the Chinese herb, ‘thunder duke vine’ (Tripterygium Wilfordii). Since 2000, researchers have investigated the use of triptonide as a potential male contraceptive due to its ability to lower sperm production.
According to a recent study published in the journal Nature Communications, the compound exerts its effects by targeting late spermiogenesis. Researchers administered a single daily dose of triptonide to mice and 12 adult male monkeys. Within 3-4 weeks in mice and 5-6 weeks in monkeys, researchers noticed sperm deformation. Additionally, fertility returned 4-6 weeks after cessation of the compound.
The lack of toxic side effects with both short- and long-term use makes triptonide a promising option for a male contraceptive. This was confirmed by taking samples from the blood and organs of the animals. However, further evaluation and human trials are required before it is approved for use.
Chang, Z., Qin, W., Zheng, H. et al. Triptonide is a reversible non-hormonal male contraceptive agent in mice and non-human primates. Nat Commun 12, 1253 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-21517-5
Wang, L et al. Zhongguo yi xue ke xue yuan xue bao. Acta Academiae Medicinae Sinicae vol. 22,3 (2000): 223-6.
Roth, M Y et al. “Male hormonal contraception: looking back and moving forward.” Andrology vol. 4,1 (2016): 4-12. doi:10.1111/andr.12110