Gel boosts male libido and prevents pregnancy in rats

"Our hope is that this trifunctional contraceptive gel could further enhance the safety and quality of sexual intercourse," says Ke Chen. (Credit: Getty Images)

A new trifunctional contraceptive gel enhanced male libido and prevented pregnancy in 100% of cases when tested with rats, researchers report.

They compared the gel, which contains spermicidal, anti-viral, and libido-enhancing agents in one formulation, to a commercially available contraceptive gel that has an average 87% effective rate.

“We are using three pharmacological agents in a new formulation,” says Ke Cheng, professor in regenerative medicine at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and professor in the North Carolina State/University of North Carolina joint department of biomedical engineering.

“Our hope is that this trifunctional contraceptive gel could further enhance the safety and quality of sexual intercourse.”

The new carbomer-based gel contains the contraceptive gossypol, the antiviral tenofovir, and nitroglycerin to stimulate blood flow.

Cheng and his team first tested the gel in vitro to determine spermicidal and antiviral efficacy, as well as toxicity to vaginal epithelial cells. At 10 micrograms per milliliter gossypol concentration, the gel was effective in killing almost 100% of pig sperm—used for in vitro testing—in 30 seconds. Lower concentrations were equally effective by 180 seconds.

The researchers also tested the gel in vitro against a lentivirus and found that it did have an inhibitory effect, indicating its potential to reduce transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. The gel was also shown not to be damaging to epithelial vaginal cells, as cell damage in treated cells was not significantly different from non-treated, or control cells.

Next, the researchers looked at contraceptive effects in a rat model. Researchers divided 18 female rats into three groups: one that received the new gel; one that received a common commercially available contraceptive gel containing nonoxynol9; and a control. The females in the trifunctional gel group had no pregnancies, as opposed to one pregnancy in the nonoxynol9 group.

The team also tested the gel’s effect on male rats’ libido and erectile function. Rats that received the gel mated more frequently and with shorter incubation periods than those that did not.

“The trifunctional contraceptive gel we created yielded higher contraceptive success rates than those on the market,” says Cheng, “and has great potential for improving the safety and quality of sexual intercourse.”

Cheng is corresponding author of the paper in Bioactive Materials.

Source: NC State