At last women can hand over reins to men...
AT LAST, a male pill that will change the face of contraception, is this what we women have waited for? Yes, it is, in my opinion.
The "dry orgasm" has landed. Finally, we can have sex without the mess, a pill that can take the sperm out of the equation. We no longer need to request for breakfast that we like our eggs unfertilised, and men can deliver.
This is an amazing advance in medical science. Since the pill is hormone-free - men will never have to worry about the varicose veins, swollen ankles and mood swings that the surge of hormones normally found in female contraceptive pill cause, although the very thought of men chatting in the office about the side effects and cycles caused by their pill secretly makes me snigger.
The new pill contains certain chemicals that prevent ejaculation, but which don't interfere with the strength of the orgasm, so bring it on.
This is wonderful news for women planning a family, as we generally are the ones having to intake chemicals which haven't always been proved to be safe over the years. Now it's the guys' turn, although I can't imagine this will be targeted at single men.
In our landscape of casual sex, binge drinking and an increase in HIV among heterosexuals, surely this male pill will be no exchange for condoms?
We need to ensure protection against the sexually transmitted diseases that are on the upsurge. So, I assume that the male pill will be ground-breaking solely for couples who have already gained that mutual trust, the people who enjoy weekends at a garden centre and have already gotten over the awkwardness of the chlamydia test.
There will be howls of distrust about men and their ability to take the pill, but that isn't what fascinates or bothers me, because women have had that control over their own fertility for years and men had to trust us.
Some women have under-estimated men, pouring derision on their self-control and ability to understand male fertility. I abhor this attitude and welcome this latest development, having been married to a man for 26 years who never did want more than one child. I agreed as I don't breed well in captivity.
What I don't understand is how men will know to take their pill at 3pm on a Wednesday to ensure an unfertilised romp at 9pm that night. Will women have to agree to sex hours in advance? Check the Blackberry, text his mobile and set the time-place-date?
That's too much pressure for me; my husband might irritate me at 5pm and therefore will be getting nothing more than dark looks, sarcastic comments and threats of divorce before his sperm-free sex has lost its take-off slot.
Women don't have that pressure when they take the contraceptive pill, we don't have to have sex to justify the tiny tablet going over our throats. We are just happy we don't have to get pregnant every nine months.
This new pill may mean that some extremely optimistic men will take it daily "just in case". The late night drinks after work will dry up and men will be going home early in their droves, to ensure their time slot is safe.
Women will now have the reins on this situation and can call their partners at work and utter those three little words "take that pill".
That anticipation of getting home in time will only add excitement to the situation; let's just hope neither party runs into a traffic jam nor gets held up on the phone chatting about parents' night with the headteacher.
The immortal words, "honey I'm home" will take on a whole new meaning.
Take when needed: The quick-action pill with no lasting after-effects
THE new hormone-free male contraceptive pill will be effective after only one dose.
The pill, which allows orgasm but prevents ejaculation, was developed after researchers noticed certain medications had a similar side-effect.
If trials are successful, the male pill could be on the market within five years, allowing men to suspend their fertility for a few hours whenever required.
The revolutionary pill would provide an attractive alternative to current male pills, which rely on injections, implants and patches, and are mostly based on hormones. Dr NNaemeka Amobi, a researcher from University College London (UCL), said: "The non-hormonal male pill could be taken when and as needed."
The scientists developing the pill say it could also be taken daily in the same way as the female contraceptive pill. But whether a man takes the pill every day or on a one-off basis, the effect on fertility wears off within a few hours.
Dr Amobi, who has been working on the project for 20 years, said the drug worked by limiting the movement of the vas deferens, the tiny tube through which the sperm travels up from the testicles.
"It is something that you can take within four hours and it will be reversible within 12-24 hours," he said.
Clinical trials are yet to begin, but Israeli tests of a drug which used the same mechanism found it 100 per cent effective as a contraceptive.
Dr Amobi's colleague, Dr Chistopher Smith, said: "It could be useful to couples who need contraception but who don't want to take drugs all the time."
If the pill goes on the market it could earn vast amounts for UCL, which will be able to licence the patent.
Annual worldwide sales of the female pill are worth £21 billion a year.
Professor John Guillebaud, a leading expert on contraception, described the development as "a brilliant discovery".
News of the pill was welcomed by contraception experts. Rebecca Findlay of the Family Planning Association said: "It gets tiring for women to always be in charge of fertility. For women it would be another form of liberation. "It's great."
Richard Anderson, professor of reproductive health at the University of Edinburgh, said the main advantage of the new system would be the speed with which it started to work.
"Even vasectomy can take a few months to become effective, whereas this is immediate," he said. "If this does work very quickly and effectively and is as safe as they think, it is a very exciting development."
CLAIRE SMITH email@example.com
MORE THAN ONE WAY TO AVOID A PREGNANCY
THE ancient Egyptians used sheaths to protect from disease and employed fermented sugary substances to use as spermicide.
By the time of Charles II, condoms were commonly made of animal intestines. The origin of the name was said to be a Dr Condom, who supplied the English monarch with the method to prevent illegitimate children.
In 18th century Italy, the great lover Casanova favoured half a lemon, which a woman would use in the same way as a cervical cap. The lemon juice would also inhibit the sperm.
It was during the First World War that use of condoms became widespread. They were handed out to soldiers to prevent the spread of disease and unplanned pregnancies.
The first commercial version of the birth control pill became available in 1960. Within two years 1.2 million women were "on the Pill" and the development was a key to the sexual revolution.
In the 1970s manufacturers developed a more effective intrauterine device, which released small quantities of hormones.
There have been many attempts to take the contraceptive burden away from women and to introduce a male pill.