Scientists are one step closer to inventing male oral contraception – as a new birth pill for men has passed human safety tests.
The pill, known as 11-beta-MNTDC, has passed the first round of human trials and it functions in a similar way to the contraceptive pill that is currently available to women.
Researchers at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute and the University of Washington say these trials show promising results.
New male birth pill passes human safety tests – the first time this has happened
Other male contraceptive pills and gels have been tried and tested in the past, but none of them have been successful.
However, this new contraceptive has managed to safely suppress the hormones that are required for sperm reduction without a man’s sex drive being affected.
Experts say the male pill works by acting as a synthetic form of testosterone, signalling tp the brain that testosterone levels are adequate and inhibiting the production of sperm.
“11-beta-MNTDC mimics testosterone through the rest of the body but is not concentrated enough in the testes to support sperm production,” says Stephanie Page, who is a professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of medicine.
Results from the trial
In the trials, 14 men received 200mg of the drug every day with food for 28 days. Another group of 16 men received 400mg and 10 men took a placebo.
The men who were taking the drug had a drop in testosterone levels without any major side effects.
However, between four and six men reportedly suffered mild side effects such as fatigue, acne and headaches. These are also common side effects women have while taking the female pill.
Five men stated they noticed they had a decreased sex drive, two men reported they experienced erectile dysfunction, but their sexual activity was not decreased. Again, some women experience suppressed sex drives on the pill.
“Our results suggest that this pill, which combines two hormonal activities in one, will decrease sperm production while preserving libido,” says Dr Christina Wang from the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute in a report.
The drug’s effects were reversible after the men in the study stopped taking it.
This is the first time there’s been a successful human trial of male contraception
In previous studies, participants have had to drop out of the experiment due to severe side-effects, so the fact that this trial was successful is very positive.
But before you chuck out your supply of contraception, some medical professionals say a male pill probably won’t be on the market for some time yet.
At the moment, men only have limited options when it comes to birth control: condoms, withdrawal (an unreliable method) or vasectomy. This new method would very well provide the first long-lasting and reversible male contraception.
Women have various contraceptive options such as the pill, diaphragm, coil, implant and injection.
Now, scientists only need to find a way for men to fall pregnant, breastfeed… and also take on the mental load!
Would you be keen for your partner to try this male pill if it became available?
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