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Join host Paul Shapiro as he talks with some of the leading start-up entrepreneurs and titans of industry alike using their businesses to help solve the world’s most pressing problems.

Mar 1, 2021

Did you know that two of every five births in America are unplanned? 

That’s not to suggest that an unplanned baby is going to be an unloved baby, of course, but family planning does tend to offer advantages, especially for families with fewer means, since high birth rates make it particularly difficult for children to escape a vicious cycle of poverty. (See more from the charity Having Kids.)

Smaller family sizes not only are helpful for poverty reduction, but they also have environmental benefits for a planet currently experiencing exponential growth of the human species and all the associated concerns that come along with it, from climate change to deforestation and more.

Unfortunately, despite major revolutions in science and technology in recent decades, innovation in contraception just hasn’t kept pace, making it harder for both men and women to more thoughtfully decide when or even whether to procreate. Admittedly, women have lots of contraceptive choices, but they tend to have some pretty unsavory side effects, especially those that are hormonal in nature. Men, on the other hand, basically have two choices: condoms, which aren’t always the most popular, or vasectomy, which can be daunting for obvious reasons. 

As a result, the burden of pregnancy prevention has typically fallen disproportionately on women.

Enter Your Choice Therapeutics, an early-stage contraception start-up developing non-hormonal, non-permanent methods of contraception for both women and men to use. As you’ll hear from company CEO Akash Bakshi, Your Choice started as an idea in a UC-Berkeley lab, ended up going through the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator program, and is now a funded startup aiming to bring new contraceptive categories to market. One is a contraceptive gel that’s both effective at reducing the risk of pregnancy and STDs, and the other is an oral, non-hormonal pill that men can take to render their sperm temporarily unable to impregnate a woman’s egg.

Considering how high the stakes are, it’s about time contraception innovation is featured on this show. So enjoy hearing the story of one startup seeking to make it easier for us to make fewer of us.

Discussed in this episode

More about Akash Bakshi

Your Choice Therapeutics CEO Akash Bakshi completed his undergraduate work in Biochemistry and Cell Biology at UC San Diego and then went on to pursue his graduate degree at the University of Queensland. Upon completing his research career he began his professional career in the commercialization of research at various organizations including UniQuest, UC Davis, and most recently at UC Berkeley. His work has resulted in numerous collaborations valued at over $10M. ​