Hayley Dickinson of Monash University in Australia will evaluate the spiny mouse, which is the only rodent that naturally menstruates, as a new animal model for developing and testing contraceptives. Menstruation is an essential feature of human reproduction, and is regulated by hormonal contraceptives. However, current contraceptives like the contraceptive pill can cause side effects such as anxiety and low libido. A small animal model that mimics human menstruation would be valuable for testing new contraceptives that have fewer side effects. The menstrual cycle of the spiny mouse, like that in humans, involves progesterone production from a transient endocrine gland. These mice also display cycles of anxiety behavior similar to premenstrual tension. They will validate it as a model for contraceptive drug discovery by analyzing the effects of current human contraceptives on fertility, hormonal profiles, vaginal cytology, and behavior.
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