Beyond the Condom

Men want an alternative birth control. So why can’t researchers create one?

Imagine the scene: Arms tensed, bow flexed, a hunter on the African savanna draws in a slow breath as his prey moves into view. Perhaps it’s an impala, maybe even an elephant or giraffe — beasts one might think too large for a single archer to fell. But the arrow’s tip has a secret weapon: the deadly poison ouabain. An extract of plants native to much of sub-Saharan Africa, the compound stops hearts, sometimes within just a few minutes.

Surprise: This heart-stopping poison could one day be our best option for a male contraceptive.


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