Male pill could be on horizon as trials yield positive results

20 March, 2018, 04:50 | Author: Lynne Higgins
  • A contraceptive pill for men has come a step closer to development. Taken daily like the female Pill it switches off a man¿s testosterone and the hormones that cause sperm production

The latest effort to come up with a male birth control pill has found a formulation that appears to be safe.

Dr Stephanie Page, the study's lead investigator and a professor of medicine at the University of Washington, said the low levels are consistent with effective male contraception seen in longer-term studies.

While this research is not as far progressed as the new DMAU study, it highlights the variety of different tactics scientists are investigating to develop an elusive male contraceptive pill.

The lower levels of testosterone produced by taking the pill did not seem to cause any of the symptoms usually associated with testosterone deficiency, Page added.

Dr Page said longer term studies are now underway to confirm that when taken every day, DMAU blocks sperm production.

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The study included 100 healthy men between ages 18 and 50 years. DMAU is being developed by the National Institutes of Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which funded this study. The groups who took DMAU experienced weight gain and had lowered levels of HDL, or "good" cholesterol, side effects that Page noted were mild. The men took the contraceptive or a placebo once a day for 28 days with food. Known as dimethandrolone undecanoate, or DMAU, research was presented at Chicago's annual Endocrine Society meeting that a month-long trial was recently completed with positive results. Also, because they clear the body relatively quickly, men would have had to take the pills twice a day.

It is yet to be seen whether the drug proves to be a safe, effective contraceptive over long-term usage. DMAU must be taken with food to be effective, said Page. The drug blocks sperm production through a combination of an androgen - a male hormone such as testosterone - and a progestin. Apparently, researchers are close to developing male birth control pills along the lines of oral contraception that's been available for women since the 1960s. DMAU "does have the promise of blocking sperm production", Courgi said.

All participants underwent a safety test including a liver and kidney screening. Oral contraceptives are one of the medications most often used by Canadian women.

'Many men said they would prefer a daily pill as a reversible contraceptive, rather than long-acting injections or topical gels, which are also in development'. While women are more likely to trust their partners with contraception than you might think, quite a few men still (archaically, absurdly) believe that contraception is a woman's job.



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