Scientists are working on a male birth control pill designed to block the release of fertile sperm and prevent unwanted pregnancy. So far many of the attempted methods involving inhibiting hormones appear to lead to testosterone problems and decreased libido.
There are however some potential natural methods of birth control without such side effects. One of the most interesting is using papaya seeds for male contraception.
Ahead is what we know about using the seeds of papaya as a contraceptive for men, potential precautions if you choose to use them and the simplest and best tasting way to add papaya seeds to your diet.
Papaya Seeds as Birth Control in Traditional Cultures
Both men and women on the Indian subcontinent and in parts of Southeast Asia have traditionally used the papaya fruit and its seeds as a form of herbal birth control.
Women are known to use the unripe green papaya, with its enzyme rich milky white sap, to avoid pregnancy. For this purpose it is either eaten in large amounts or used as an abortifacient when applied directly to the uterus.
Both unripe papaya and papaya seeds are high in the enzyme papain. Papain is a beneficial aid to protein digestion but best avoided for women currently or trying to get pregnant. More on possible side effects of papaya enzymes for both men and women here.
Papaya seeds are also reported to have been used by men in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and other parts of Asia as a long-term natural birth control method. The equivalent of around a teaspoon is suggested daily and is taken for around three months to be fully effective.
The effect is then said to last for several months after treatment is stopped, to be completely reversible in the long-term and with no observed negative effects on libido during treatment. Two interesting studies on the contraceptive effects papaya seeds shed more light on their potential.
Scientific Research on Papaya Seeds for Male Contraception
As is often the case with natural treatments, there hasn’t been a wealth of scientific studies on non-pharmaceutical birth control methods. Companies can’t patent plant-based treatments like papaya seeds (though I wouldn’t put it past Monsanto to try), so there’s little financial incentive for research.
Two promising animal studies have been done though on the effects of taking papaya seed extract on male sperm. The first on Pubmed is a study of the long-term safety of a Carica papaya seed extract on male rats over a full year of daily doses.
In this research, while sperm became completely ineffective during the treatment, no decrease in testosterone or damage to internal organs was observed compared to the control animals. The researchers said the papaya seed extract ‘affect sperm parameters without adverse side effects and is clinically safe as a male contraceptive’.
While rat studies are often used to test the safety of a substance, men are not rats. This second study though involving adult male langur monkeys is significantly closer to our own biology. In it an extract of papaya seeds, equivalent to 50 mg per kilogram of body weight per day, was administered for 360 days.
Testing found sperm concentration, motility and viability notably decreased within 30 days and was significantly impaired by 60. After 90 days azoospermia (no sperm count) was observed in all the test subjects.
Once treatment was withdrawn, sperm function slowly increased and returned to the fertile range after 150 days with no noted long-term side effects. The study concluded that the year-long administration of papaya seed extract ‘disclose no significant toxicological effects and the serum testosterone level was not affected’.
How to Use Papaya Seeds as Natural Male Birth Control
Despite the findings of these studies, we are unlikely to see a papaya seed-based male birth control pill in the drugstores anytime soon. Any man interested in using papaya seeds to decrease his fertility would have to do it with the seeds from papaya fruit and at his own (and his partner’s) understanding and risk.
You’d also need a good supply of papaya seeds to use them as homemade birth control. Fortunately, they can be frozen for bulk use and easily added to the simple papaya seed smoothie recipe ahead.
For people that don’t have access to fresh papaya seeds, this organic papaya seed powder is the best alternative. You’d only need about half a teaspoon per dose due to the seeds already being concentrated in powdered form.
On the positive side, papaya seeds actually have many health benefits so there can be significant additional reasons to take them daily for a man looking to prevent unwanted pregnancy. They have even been shown to be an effective treatment against parasites and intestinal worms.
Ultimately, the choice is up to each male reader individually. I’ve personally used papaya seeds regularly for long periods, primarily for the digestive benefits detailed here, but also as extra insurance against unplanned pregnancy, and noticed only positive health effects.
There’s no way to guarantee that using papaya seeds as a herbal contraceptive would be 100% effective. The noted studies and observations from traditional uses make it one of the best candidates for natural birth control, but each man would need to consider his own and his partner’s situation.
If you’re interested in using the treatment then here is how to prepare a consistent supply of papaya seeds. Following this is a simple way to take them daily in a great tasting papaya seed smoothie.
Preparing Papaya Seeds for Regular Use
Papaya seeds taste very different to the delicious fresh fruit, with the flavor often described as a cross between pepper and wasabi. Just chewing up a teaspoon of seeds each morning isn’t that much fun so here is a more enjoyable way to have them without the strong taste.
To be effective, papaya seeds need to be chewed up, crushed or broken apart in some way. After trying all three, I know which is the easiest to follow for long periods and now always have the seeds blended into my daily smoothies when taking them.
You’ll need a high powered blender to chop them up finely so you won’t even notice them in your smoothie. After a lot of research I chose this one and it’s perfect for the purpose.
Unless you live in an area where papayas are freely available you’ll probably want to freeze a supply for regular use. Fortunately, the large Central and South American papayas available in America contain a lot of seeds (and are not affected by the GMO issues of the smaller Hawaiian fruits).
The best way I’ve found to ensure a consistent supply is to get a couple of large ripe papayas, cut them into strips with the seeds and freeze them. Here’s how.
How to Harvest and Store Papaya Seeds for Regular Use
First gently rub the papaya skin with a splash of apple cider vinegar and rinse with warm water. This cleans it and helps remove any sprays. Papaya skin is high in beneficial digestive enzymes and it’s much easier to leave it on to be blended up in your smoothie.
Once washed, sliced the papaya lengthways in half and cut off the two ends that don’t contain any seeds. These can be eaten now or chopped up and frozen separately to be added as extra smoothie ingredients.
Now with the two seed containing halves, sliced them into vertical strips about half an inch wide. For large papaya, these can all then be cut in half horizontally and you should be left with sections of papaya that contain roughly about a teaspoon of seeds.
For really large papayas full of seeds the vertical strips could be cut horizontally several times. We’re just looking for roughly a teaspoon of seeds, still attached to the papaya pulp. Don’t worry about being too precise. These studies found the seeds effective even at relatively low doses. A teaspoon is just an easy approximation. A little more or less is fine.
I’ve found the easiest way to have the strips ready for regularly use is to then lay them side-by-side in a tupperware container and freeze them. Just one deep is better so they don’t stick, but you could also place some foil between the layers for bigger containers to prevent sticking.
Chopping up a couple of papayas like this is a little work at the start, but once you’ve done this with a big papaya you should have enough seed laden papaya strips for several weeks.
They can then be used from the freezer and added, still frozen, directly to your smoothie. Unless you have the powdered seeds, this is the best way I’ve found to have a daily supply for regular use.
Simple Papaya Seed Smoothie Recipe for Natural Birth Control
1 papaya strip with approximately a teaspoon of papaya seeds. Alternatively use half a teaspoon of this papaya seed powder.
Fruit of your choice – a big slice of pineapple, a banana, a whole chopped apple or pear or a handful of berries are all good.
2 tablespoons of desiccated coconut or chia seeds – these thicken the smoothie and provide many digestive benefits.
A cup of coconut water or diluted coconut milk, hemp milk, almond milk or organic cow’s milk if you tolerate it (soy or conventional cow’s milk isn’t recommended for various health reasons).
Half a teaspoon of cinnamon for a great flavor, blood sugar control and many antibacterial properties.
A couple of drops of Stevia for healthier sweetness if needed (should be unnecessary if you’re using sweet fruits like pineapple or bananas).
Simply throw in all the ingredients, top up with the coconut water and blend on high until the consistency looks smooth and rich.
Pour into a glass and drink immediately. First thing the morning is best for papaya seeds digestive benefits, but when you get home from work to keep you going until dinner is also very good.
Treatment Time and Final Thoughts
The langur monkey research observed a reduction in sperm viability with papaya seed after 30 days, significant decreases by 60 days and ‘no sperm count’ after 90, with a further 150 days of male contraception once the papaya seed treatment was stopped.
Given this, papaya seeds may be useful as a long-term herbal contraceptive for men worried about unwanted pregnancy. Though you would need regular access to papaya seeds and the commitment to take them daily.
I’d also highly advise testing your sperm count before relying on this method. Inexpensive home fertility tests like this are now available for men and are well worth it for something so important.
It’s not the place or purpose of this article to make the decision as to whether to use papaya seeds as a natural male birth control for anyone. Commonly used barrier methods like condoms are simpler, but in situations where these are causing problems papaya seeds could provide an alternative.
It’s a choice for each man to make individually, after researching the options available, but no method should be considered 100% effective. Obviously other factors should be taken into account as well, such as protection if you’re not in a committed relationship.
Do you have any experience with using papaya seeds as a natural contraceptive? I’d be interested to hear from men who have used the seeds for this purpose, how they found taking them regularly, and particularly if they have had their sperm count tested after using this homemade birth control method.
If you’re interested in other reasons to take papaya seeds for better health and for both men and women see this article on some of their unusual benefits for your liver, digestive system and preventing bacterial and viral infections.