The West

Male pill could cut reversals
Male pill could cut reversals

A recent breakthrough in finding a male contraceptive pill could help reduce rising numbers of vasectomy reversals that are being fuelled by men in new relationships or deciding to have a bigger family, according to experts.

They argue it could also help breed a new generation of men who want to take more control of their fertility and avoid unwanted pregnancies.

WA has Australia's second- highest rate of abortions compared with the number of pregnancies, with almost one in four pregnancies in 2009 terminated.

Last month, US researchers revealed they had cracked the code to find an effective and hormone-free birth control treatment for men, after testing a small compound known as JQ1 in mice.

While the pill is still likely 10 years away, experts say it would be an important development for Australia where an estimated one in four men have "the snip" but thousands of men a year have reversals.

Male reproduction expert Robert McLachlan, from Prince Henry's Institute in Melbourne, said a male pill would not necessarily suit the "nightclub set" but there was a market for stable couples who wanted to delay or space out their children, or delay a vasectomy. "Men need broader choices when they want to be infertile for one, two or five years," he said.

"Australia is one of the greatest 'vasectomists' in the world and although regrets are not that common, hundreds and hundreds of men are having reversals each year so it would be nice if people could control their fertility without having to use permanent procedures."

Professor McLachlan said the pill being developed still had to undergo painstaking testing but its attraction was that it was hormone-free. "There are lots of options for women but it's a long way short of that for the fellas," he said.

"It's not very generous to men in stable couples who already have major roles in family planning to say they wouldn't be prepared to use it, because they want to avoid an unwanted pregnancy as much as anyone."

Rebecca Smith, from Family Planning WA, said new safe and effective methods of contraception for men or women were welcome.

The West Australian

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