Melbourne scientists have been developing a male contraceptive pill, which they are aiming to make available to the public in the next five to ten years.

Researchers at the Monash University’s Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences have been developing the hormone-free pill.

Lead researcher Doctor Sab Ventura said it worked by switching off two signalling proteins in the brain that cause sperm to be released.

“We are moving closer to developing a convenient, safe and effective, non-hormonal oral male contraceptive that can be readily reversed,” Dr Ventura said.

“We aim to do this by developing a combination of two drugs that simultaneously block sperm transport rather than disrupt sperm development or maturation.”

Researchers also hope the drug, which does not rely on hormones, would bypass harmful side-effects that have, until now, delayed the development of a male contraceptive pill.

In hormone-based drugs, side effects for men have included reduced fertility and libido, as well as birth defects in future children.

Dr Ventura said he expected men would want to use the male contraceptive pill.

“There is a lot of social science research that shows men are happy to take control of contraception and women are happy to let them do it, but it’s very hard to say without one on the market,” he said.