Doctors from Airlangga University in Jakarta (Go Garudamukhas!) have just presented data showing that extract from Justicia Gendarussa, a small shrub endemic to India, works as a contraceptive at rates comparable to hormonal birth control. And this news isn’t just relevant to family-minded Gangatiri cows: The subjects of the early trials were adult men - human men. Male birth control, that dream within a dream, may finally be here.
According to research, the extract works through a novel mechanism. Instead of keeping sperm from reaching the egg or the egg from implanting, like hormonal birth control, J. Gendarussa prevents sperm and egg from joining. On the pill, a man’s sperm count and motility remain the same, but the protein sperm use to break through the egg’s surface is inhibited. Take the steel bow of an icebreaker and you’ve just got a boat.
While this is the first wide-scope, partially blind study of J. Gendarussa, its effects have been studied for over 30 years, since a professor of phytochemistry from Airlangga University did fieldwork in India and found that men in rural villagers drank a tea from the plant to reduce fertility without interfering with sexual performance or pleasure.
There’s a lot to be said for a non-hormonal pill: few side effects, a quick return to potency once stopped, and the ease of never worrying about the expiration date on the condom in your wallet. Yet, despite the fact that the pill is only steps away from legalization in Indonesia, it will be years until a similar male birth control pill makes its way to America via the FDA obstacle course. Until then, you’ll have to stick with the Trojans or head to New Delhi and do some pruning.
Photos by flickr.com/himanshu_sarpotdar