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EAGxVirtual Unconference (Saturday, June 20th 2020)

Non-hormonal birth control for men and women

YourChoice is developing non-hormonal birth control for both men and women. Nadja Mannowetz has discovered three compounds that bind to sperm and render them immobile. At first, they aim to create a topically applied gel (e.g., on demand birth control for women that would be better than a diaphragm). After that, they’d like to develop an oral product (e.g., a non-hormonal male birth control pill). Eventually, the goal is to create a safe, cheap non-hormonal birth control implant for both men and women. Such an implant would drop the error rate close to zero vs. products that involve more human discretion.

This should be a boon to humanity since it will: 1) slow population growth and reduce our toll on the environment; 2) help people better plan their lives and reproductive decisions; and 3) improve family formation (vs. 40% of births in the U.S. currently being to single parents – this has a particular effect on young boys).

This is:

Important: Few things impact a person’s life more than the decision (or not) to have a child. This is particularly true in developing countries where resources to support a child might be scarce. Also, as developing countries move toward Western standards of living, carbon emissions will balloon if economic growth is coupled with brisk population growth.

Tractable: The compounds currently render sperm immobile in lab conditions, and one of them has already been deemed safe by the FDA. It’s just a matter of engaging in FDA trials to show effectiveness in humans.

Neglected: Male birth control has long been neglected vs. female birth control. Also, many of the attempts at male birth control thus far have been hormonal in nature, and it seems particularly unlikely that many men will be open to this. A non-hormonal approach seems more likely to catch on with men.

Nadja Mannowetz, the Chief Scientific Officer of YourChoice (a YC funded company), has conducted a ton of research (during her PhD, post doc, and after) on sperm motility, and can get into the weeds on the underlying science. She would be happy to discuss the scientific nuances and future potential of non-hormonal birth control for both men and women.

We would prefer the later time slot, but would be open to either.