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Before you start saying, “Hell no, nope, not a chance in the world that’s coming near my penis,” just hear out the science, because it’s pretty impressive.

A potential new form of male birth control contains a surprising active ingredient: ouabain, the active ingredient in the heart-stopping poison some African hunters traditionally used to dip their arrows in.

Before you start saying, “Hell no, nope, not a chance in the world that’s coming near my penis,” just hear out the science, because it’s pretty impressive.

Ouabain is the active ingredient found in Acokanathera schimperi and Strophanthus gratus, plants native to Africa that, thousands of years ago, hunters coated their poison arrows with.

However, it’s also been been shown to curb male fertility, which is why scientists at the University of Minnesota and the University of Kansas teamed up to see what they could do with it.

What they found could be a game-changer for male contraceptives—if, as with other possible forms of male birth control, it ever comes to fruition.

In a study recently published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, the scientists were able to create a derivative of ouabain that keeps the fertility-curbing properties and eliminates the cardiotoxic properties of the molecule.

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They found it to be safe and effective in rats and mice, but don’t get too excited: It still hasn’t been tested in humans.

A press release from the American Chemical Society explained that the ouabain derivative “interferes with the (sperm) cells’ ability to swim, which is essential to its role in fertilizing an egg.”

In theory, the effects should be reversible because it only impacts mature sperm cells. “Sperm cells produced after stopping treatment with the ouabain derivative shouldn’t be affected,” the release stated.

We reached out to the researchers, and they referred us to Dr. Min Lee, a staff scientist with the Contraceptive Development Program at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (Although he was not apart of the study, Lee’s research focus includes contraception.)

He told Men’s Health that this study is exciting because it could lead to a male contraceptive that doesn’t have any sort of impact on hormones, one of the first of its kind.

“Right now, most male contraceptives in clinical trials are all hormonal,” Lee said. “This is one of the only chemical compound series not hitting hormone receptors, so in theory, you’d also not have the side effects that accompany hormonal contraceptives.”

These side effects, Lee explained, include mood swings, increased acne and changes in libido.

Lee said that there are currently other forms of male contraceptives—most involving hormone receptors—that are currently in clinical trials, meaning they are being tested on humans. It takes years for drugs to reach clinical trials, and even more for them to hit the market.

This is the case for all drugs, but the process can take even longer for contraceptives. “With both male and female contraceptive drugs, there is a high safety bar,” he said.

“You’re giving the drug to a healthy person and you want to make sure they stay healthy. It’s different from say a cancer drug, where the person could die without taking the drug.”

According to Lee, it could be 10 years or more before we see an ouabain drug hit the market, and it’s still too early to say how exactly it would be administered.

It’s a long road ahead, he explained, but he’s optimistic. “I think this has real potential,” he said. “I look forward to what further research comes.”


Source: Pulse. Ng