Male pill could be on horizon as trials yield positive results
20 March, 2018, 04:46
While there may be concerns that a male contraceptivepill wouldn't work because men would forget to take it, study co-author Dr. Arthi Thirumalai of the University of Washington was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying it would be "quite old-fashioned" to draw such conclusions, as surveys had found that men are also willing to "take responsibility for contraception".
Currently, birth control options for men are limited to condoms and withdrawal during intercourse, which are less effective than the hormonal birth control methods that women use. Researchers have just finished the first human study on the experimental male oral contraceptive-called dimethandrolone undecanoate, or DMAU. The drug is being developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH); the group also funded the study, which has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Unlike other forms of oral testosterone, which classically are cleared from the body quickly, this compound contains a specific long-chain fatty acid that slows this clearance making it a ideal "once-a-day" pill.
These low levels are consistent with what's needed for effective male contraception, Page said.
"Individuals on all the doses had remarkably low testosterone levels", Page said.
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.
Researchers who conducted a month-long trial involving 83 men said the once-daily pill lowered hormone levels similarly to other forms of longer-term contraceptives-without signs of testosterone deficiency or excess. "No hot flashes - the men had normal mood", she added. The men gained between 3 and 9 pounds, and their HDL or "good" cholesterol levels fell slightly - something that might, over time, raise heart disease risk.
This recent study for a once-daily pill for men was carried out with groups in Washington and California.
The next step is to see if the pills decrease sperm production. The next batch of men will be tested for a three-month period.
In Canada, oral contraceptives for women have been available for more than 50 years, and are the most often-used form of reversible contraception, Statistics Canada reported. DMAU must be taken with food to be effective, said Page. "Testosterone production is blocked and therefore sperm are not able to finish their last stages of maturation", she said.
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