Gossypol: a contraceptive for men

Contraception. 2002 Apr;65(4):259-63. doi: 10.1016/s0010-7824(02)00294-9.


Gossypol is a polyphenol isolated from the seed, roots, and stem of the cotton plant (Gossypium sp.). The substance, a yellow pigment similar to flavonoids, is present in cottonseed oil. In the plant, it acts as a natural defensive agent against predators, provoking infertility in insects. In most animals, gossypol provokes infertility, and in man it causes spermatogenesis arrest at relatively low doses. Studies carried out in China, Africa, and Brazil have shown that the substance is well tolerated, causing no side effects that lead to discontinuation. The reported hypokalemia of early studies has not been confirmed in the latest trials. The only concern at present appears to be lack of reversibility in over 20% of subjects. Gossypol should be prescribed preferably to men who have completed their families or for those who would accept permanent infertility after a few years of use.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antispermatogenic Agents / pharmacology
  • Contraceptive Agents, Male* / administration & dosage
  • Contraceptive Agents, Male* / adverse effects
  • Contraceptive Agents, Male* / pharmacology
  • Gossypol* / administration & dosage
  • Gossypol* / adverse effects
  • Gossypol* / pharmacology
  • Infertility, Male / chemically induced
  • Male
  • Spermatogenesis / drug effects


  • Antispermatogenic Agents
  • Contraceptive Agents, Male
  • Gossypol