Published: Tue, March 20, 2018
Health Care | By Alice Shelton

New Male Birth Control Pill Safe, Effective

New Male Birth Control Pill Safe, Effective

Similar to the pill used by women, the male contraceptive tested on 100 of the participants combined an androgen (a male hormone like testosterone) and a progestin.

"Despite having low levels of circulating testosterone, very few subjects reported symptoms consistent with testosterone deficiency or excess", said senior investigator Stephanie Page, a professor at the University of Washington's Department of Medicine, as quoted by Newsweek. She explained that many men would opt for a once daily pill that provides them with reversible contraception rather than go in for topical gels or long acting injections of DMAU that would provide longer term contraception.

The new study involved 100 men ages 18 to 50, who were randomly assigned to receive one of three doses of DMAU (100, 200 and 400 milligrams), or a placebo.

Even though the researchers said they were "very excited" by the results, they haven't been testing it long enough to show whether it decreases sperm production, and they haven't shown whether it stops couples from conceiving.

Previous attempts at developing an oral pill for men led to liver inflammation and toxicity, but according to Dr. Page that doesn't seem to be the case here. However, the male birth control pills that just passed the clinical trial contain the long-chain fatty acid undecanoate, which the researchers said slows down the rate at which the hormone is cleared.

In a nutshell (sorry, couldn't resist), the pill lowers sperm hormones while not altering testosterone levels.

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The development of a male contraceptive pill has over the years been affected by side-effects on fertility, birth defects and libido.

The findings of the research were presented at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in Chicago.

This recent study for a once-daily pill for men was carried out with groups in Washington and California. It's 99 per cent effective when taken perfectly, Planned Parenthood wrote, but added that it's hard to do this. A team of Australian researchers has been working to develop a novel non-hormonal form of male contraceptive that blocks sperm transport instead of disrupting sperm maturation. "Testosterone production is blocked and therefore sperm are not able to finish their last stages of maturation", she said.

More research is needed before DMAU becomes a viable option for male birth control.

One big question has always been whether men would actually take a birth control pill reliably, since they're not the ones who bear the burden of pregnancy. Their liver functions and kidney functions were however normal and the drug was deemed safe.

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