Male Contraceptive Pill Still a Decade Away

Desiree Burns
March 28, 2019

Dr. Stephanie Page, a co-senior investigator on the study at the University of Washington said the goal was to "expand contraceptive options and create a menu of choices for men like we have for women".

It suppresses the levels of hormones that drive the production of sperm and testosterone in the testes.

"Our results suggest that this pill will decrease sperm production while preserving libido", Christina Wang, the lead researcher, said.

The pill, known as 11-beta-MNTDC, has passed the first round of rigorous human safety tests, with research from the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed) and the University of Washington showing promising results.

"Safe, reversible hormonal male contraception should be available in about 10 years", Wang predicted, adding that based on an earlier survey many men are open to the idea of male birth control, if the effects are reversible.

The study "shows promise for a future reversible male contraceptive", agreed Dr. Tomer Singer, who directs reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

In order to confirm the decline and pill's efficiency, scientists are now planning a longer trial.

Out of the 40 men involved, ten participants were given a placebo capsule - a pill that does not contain an active drug ingredient.

11-beta-MNTDC is a modified form of progesterone that blocks the production of hormones called LH and FSH that are needed to make sperm.

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All the men took the placebo or drug continuously for 28 days.

On average, the men receiving doses of the drug experienced a drop in testosterone levels without experiencing any severe side effects. Pills, injections, patches, gels, intra-uterine devices; there's a wealth of misinformation and side effects, including messing with your mental health.

Side effects included fatigue, acne or headache and were seen in four to six men each.

Five men (17 percent) reported a mildly decreased sex drive. However, none of this affected their sexual activity, which did not decrease.

After taking the pill for a month, the men experienced a change in hormones that would cause a drop in sperm production.

The drug effects were reversed after the treatment stopped, according to the team.

However, her team plans longer studies and - if they show that the drug is effective - the next phases will be larger studies.

But still, continued tests and increased demand for more options mean that the male pill will most likely become a reality at some point - even if it is later rather than sooner.

The preliminary data collected suggests that the drug may prove to be an effective way to stop sperm production.

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