I had expected to hear, and did hear, about a slew of labs trying to develop a birth control pill for men. What I did not expect: one pill was shown to work in men more than 50 years ago.
In the late 1950s, researchers from the University of Oregon and University of Washington tested drugs called ‘bis(dichloroacetyl) diamines’ on inmates from the Oregon State Penitentiary.* The scientists doled out one of three pills — dubbed Win 13,099, Win 17,416 and Win 18,446 — to 26 volunteers once or twice a day for up to 54 weeks, and measured the men’s sperm counts along the way.
The results were stunning: the compounds reduced the amount of sperm in the men’s semen, and sometimes completely wiped it out. The pills didn’t affect libido, and the only reported side effect was bloating and gas. What’s more, within a few weeks of stopping treatment, sperm counts went back up. It was, perhaps, the horny grail: reversible birth control for men, no rubber required.
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