The Epididymis as a Site of Contraceptive Attack

  • Trevor G. Cooper
Part of the Schering Foundation Workshop book series (SCHERING FOUND, volume 4)


Drastic measures are required to curtail the ever burgeoning world population. Fortunately, the male partner is becoming more aware of family planning (WHO 1980) and the problem seems to be less one of a willingness to contribute than a lack of a suitable method (but see Nieschlag, this volume). As an alternative to the testicular approach, the epididymis has often been mooted as an attractive site for attack by a contraceptive designed for use by men (Hinton 1980; Ford and Waites 1986) for three main reasons: (a) the onset of infertility (and rapid return to fertility after withdrawal of treatment) should be far quicker than any agent attacking the testicular production of spermatozoa; (b) damage to the genetic material, a possible sequela of action on dividing germ cells, may be obviated when attack is on maturing cells and (c) the natural function of the epididymis (that of mixing its secretions with spermatozoa) would be exploited. Concerning point (a), there may not be much difference in onset of action between an agent acting on spermiation or acting at the level of the caput epididymidis. Considering point (b), recent evidence has shown that administration of cyclophosphamide can cause embryonic malformation when given to male rats in which the ligated efferent ducts prevent spermatozoa from being attacked by the drug in the testis (Robaire, personal communication). The prime advantage of an epididymal approach, therefore, would be that the drug of choice would be delivered to, and thorough mixed with, spermatozoa, thus preventing the normal sperm-secretion interactions or creating a hostile environment for spermatozoa.


Carnitine Transport Sperm Transport Contraceptive Attack Epididymal Protein Epididymal Epithelium 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Trevor G. Cooper

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