Contraceptive gel made to kill sperm and viruses while boosting libido
Why use three separate products, when just one will do the trick? That's the thinking behind an experimental new contraceptive gel that combines a spermicide, an anti-viral agent and a libido enhancer in one formulation.
The non-toxic "trifunctional gel" is being developed by a team of scientists at North Carolina State University, led by Prof. Ke Cheng. It's made up of a Carbomer acrylic acid polymer base, to which is added the contraceptive gossypol, the antiviral drug tenofovir, and nitroglycerin for stimulating blood flow to the genitals.
In in vitro lab tests, a sample of the gel containing 10 micrograms of gossypol per milliliter was found to kill 100 percent of pig sperm within 30 seconds. Even when lower concentrations of gossypol were used, the gel still eradicated all of the sperm within an 180-second period.
Further experiments showed that the gel inhibited a lentivirus (of which HIV is one type), while not harming epithelial vaginal cells.
Its contraceptive effect was put to the test by dividing a total of 18 female rats into three groups. The gel was applied to the vaginas of one group, while another group was given a commercially available gel containing the spermicide nonoxynol9 – the third group served as a control, receiving no contraceptive. After mating with male rats, the trifunctional gel group had no pregnancies, whereas the nonoxynol9 group had one and the control group had six.
And finally, when the gel was applied to the penises of male rats, the animals were found to mate more often, and to more quickly achieve erections.
The research is described in a paper that was recently published in the journal Bioactive Materials.
Source: North Carolina State University