Today's Big Stories

Unisex contraceptives could target male sperm 'hit rate'

The burden of fertility on women is gradually being reduced by advances in the sexual and reproductive health sector.

However, urologist and sexual health expert Dr Shingai Mutambirwa explains that the development of a unisex contraceptive may be tricky to execute.

Dr Shingai says that while contraceptives can target the female hormones more easily, the male reproductive system is tougher to control because of biology.

Preventing a single egg cell from being fertilised is simpler than deactivating the billions of sperm cells found in a single ejaculation.

The problem with having a male contraceptive pill is that every time a guy ejaculates, literally tens of millions of sperms are released. Targeting all of those in the male body is difficult.

Dr Shingai Mutambirwa, urologist and sexual health expert

He says while there are hormone treatments such as progestogen, that suppress the male sperm production, the failure rate remains rather high.

The reversal of the male fertility treatments also present a challenge, with over 10% chance of permanent infertility.

Up to about 12% of patients in the trial didn't result in suppression of sperm, so it's not a very effective method.

Dr Shingai Mutambirwa, urologist and sexual health expert

Despite the challenges, Dr Shingai says there are promising technologies that target the sperm to prevent it from penetrating the female egg - this treatment could be used by both men and women.

Both partners could now the decision about how to control their fertility. The technology is well on the way.

Dr Shingai Mutambirwa, urologist and sexual health expert

Aside from medical interventions, Dr Shingai has urged men to take more social responsibility for fertility in heterosexual relationships.

He fielded various questions from CapeTalk and 702 listeners regarding male reproductive health.

Listen to the full conversation from The Redi Tlhabi Show (with Eusebius Mckaiser):

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