Another approach has been developed in the People’s Republic of China. Scientists have developed a male contraceptive using a substance called gossypol extracted from the roots, stems, and seeds of the cotton plant. In early trials involving over 10,000 men a gossypol pill taken every day reduced sperm counts to safe contraceptive levels without any alteration of the man’s sexual desire or performance. Studies are now starting in other nations to determine if gossypol is safe for general use, but it may be some time before this is established.
Initial animal studies in the U.S.A. are not very encouraging. Many of the animals accumulated gossypol in their tissues and toxic actions on the liver, spleen, and heart muscle have been demonstrated.
Until an effective male contraceptive is developed men must play their part in preventing unwanted pregnancies, after discussion with their sexual partner, so that the choice most suitable for the couple’s needs can be made.