There is no contraceptive “silver bullet” - no one method that everyone will see as the be-all-end-all of methods.
Imagine this - there’s an injectable contraceptive that lasts for a few months, but it requires seeing a provider, in their office, to administer the drug when it’s time. Or, alternatively, there’s a new daily pill, and it has almost no side effects, but it requires strict adherence to be efficacious, and missing a dose by even a few hours can be problematic. Or instead, imagine an option that works for years on end and is very effective, but requires a provider to make a small surgical incision in the scrotum during an administration procedure, and users would be sore for a few days afterwards.
All of these options have their pros and their cons, and while a specific user might find one option appealing, other users may gravitate towards different methods. Maybe one of these, maybe something already on the market like condoms or vasectomy, or maybe an individual could choose to use no contraceptive option at all.
We know that there is no “silver bullet” contraceptive on the market now, even for users that have uteruses, ovaries, and can get pregnant. There are a wide variety of options with various characteristics, and they are chosen by different people for different reasons, but there isn’t an overwhelming favorite among them. Some users prefer long-acting methods like intrauterine devices or implants, and others prefer daily methods like the pill. We also know that this “perfect method” often doesn’t exist for even a single contraceptive user throughout their reproductive lifespan. Desires, needs, and circumstances change, and users gravitate to a different method that suits their current situation. We expect all this to be true for those that produce sperm, except right now, there isn’t even a “least worst” option - sperm producers are stuck with condoms and vasectomy alone.
Here at Male Contraceptive Initiative, we work to advance a wide range of technologies that span the gamut, and focus on the end goal of meeting the needs of as many users as possible across the time in which they choose to contracept. We do this by understanding the biological significance of specific contraceptive targets, then extrapolating to determine what types of products could result from contraceptives that exploit them. Pills, injectables, on-demand methods, and long-acting methods are all a part of our portfolio and part of how we move towards a world with true contraceptive choice.
We also focus our funding portfolio across the development spectrum. Our work supports early exploration of new targets, preclinical drug development, and clinical trials alike. We can identify promising technologies, build partnerships, and facilitate movement to the next stage because of this wide-reaching approach. While no contraceptive methods for sperm producers have made it to market yet, this approach ensures that a pathway and a precedent is developed, opening the door for projects to follow in the footsteps and create a diverse menu of options that truly give users contraceptive choice.
To meet the needs of a global contingent, we must see the forest and the trees alike. Sperm producers, including people who identify as men, are not a monolith, and we know that their preferences are driven by a wide range of variables. No single option will be perfect for all men, or for an individual user throughout their reproductive journey, and as such we hope to create a method mix that truly considers the whole.