The development of effective, safe, and acceptable contraceptive methods for men is an important part of preventing and reducing unintended pregnancies. The NICHD invests in male contraceptive research and development, including studies of vasectomy.
Most NICHD research on vasectomy is supported through the Institute's Contraceptive Discovery and Development Branch (CDDB). Branch-supported vasectomy research has focused on the procedure's long-term safety and effectiveness as well as on the development and evaluation of less-invasive surgical techniques. For example:
Vasectomy research is one piece of the CDDB's portfolio in male contraception research and development. In addition, the CDDB leads the Male Contraceptive Development Program to encourage and support basic, applied, and clinical studies on topics such as mechanisms that regulate sperm maturation and motility and identification of new therapeutic targets for male contraception. A group of scientists also supported by the CDDB are building on the promising results of their work from 2004, when they demonstrated complete and reversible contraception in male monkeys immunized with Eppin, a protein found only in the testes and epididymis (PMID: 15539605).
Additionally, the CDDB funds the Biological Testing Facility and Chemical Synthesis Facility through contract mechanisms. These facilities support research on the identification and development of male and female contraceptive agents.
A study supported by the Fertility and Infertility (FI) Branch is looking at the role of epididymal dendritic cells in male reproductive function., The study a study that could have implications for both contraceptive development and treating male infertility (Project number: 1R01HD069623-01).
The NICHD was actively involved in the 2001 and 2003 Expert Consultations on Vasectomy, interagency workshops that included more than 50 experts from 24 organizations, institutions, and universities. The 3-day workshops prioritized future research related to vasectomy techniques and developed guidelines for techniques in diverse health care settings. Attendees reviewed recent clinical research findings and discussed their programmatic implications. Participants also reviewed key steps needed to improve vasectomy services in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and other areas of the world.
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