How Far Off Is the Male Contraceptive Pill?
Apr 18 2019 Read 545 Times
In a move that could revolutionise birth control, a team of American scientists have successfully trialled a new contraceptive pill for men. The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism and explain how the Phase 1 study actively changed male hormones and triggered a drop in sperm production that would effectively eliminate the chance of egg fertilisation.
Safe, reliable and sperm-curbing
Marketed as safe and reliable, scientists claim the pill started working within a month. In addition to successfully curbing sperm production it also induced very few side effects. Libidos remained unchanged, while hormone levels and sperm production rates returned to normal after stopping treatment.
“Our results suggest that this pill, which combines two hormonal activities in one, will decrease sperm production while preserving libido," explains Christina Wang, a scientist at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute and Harbor UCLA Medical Centre. "Safe, reversible hormonal male contraception should be available in about 10 years," she predicts.
A clever combination
Known as 11-beta-MNTDC, the male contraceptive pill used a modified form of testosterone to simulate the effects of androgen and progesterone, two key male hormones. Progesterone actively blocks the production of LH and FSH, a pair of hormones used by the testes to produce sperm and testosterone. Androgen is used to neutralise the synthetic drop in testosterone and keep the libido in check. The combination pill builds on another experimental male oral contraceptive pill called DMAU, which the team created last year.
The latest findings were promising, with 14 men taking a 200-milligram dose of 11-beta-MNTDC, 16 taking a 400-milligram dose and 10 given placebo capsules. After 28 days the drug triggered a change in levels of sperm-producing hormones, which suggests -beta-MNTDC could have potential as an effective form of male oral contraception.
Finding the perfect balance
Moving forward, co-author Professor Stephanie Page of the University of Washington School of Medicine says, "the goal is to find the compound that has the fewest side effects and is the most effective." She reveals the team is currently in the process of developing a second pair of oral contraceptive drugs that could fast-track the concept of male birth control to pharmacy shelves across the globe.
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