Progress in Male Birth Control Pill Shows Promising Results

The conception of the male birth control pill is ever becoming more a reality. After years and countless hours of research, testing various forms of gels, injections and pills, scientists can confidently propose an alternative option to condoms and the common procedure of vasectomies.

The new pill is said to suppress the levels of hormones in the male body that instigate the production of testosterone and sperm collected in the testes. The drug, which works similarly to female contraception, were tested at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute and the University of Washington. Professor of medicine and co-senior investigator at the University of Washington, Stephanie Page, commented:

The goal is to expand contraceptive options and create a menu of choices for men like we have for women. We are neglecting a major potential user population with the limited options currently available to men.”

Because males can produce up to 1,500 sperms per second, attempts to create such a drug in the past has proven to be quite challenging. In fact, in 2016, a similar drug ceased further testing because the adverse effects, for example headaches, acne and erectile dysfunction, were too unbearable. Therefore, with no hormonal drug available, men were left with limited options, contrary to the wide array of medical drugs and devices accessible to women. The creation and testing of this new male birth control pill are very much needed.

The pill contains a form of progesterone which restrains the production of LH and FSH hormones that are needed to make sperm. It further contains a testosterone-like androgen which will balance the sudden drop of male hormones in the body. The androgen is the key factor as it maintains the ‘maleness’ features present in the body and that is, the deep voice, hair growth, sex drive and function, etc.

During research, the first phase of the experiment determined the drug’s safety. Scientists administered the birth control pill to 30 men, ranging from ages 18 to 50 years, for 28 consecutive days. The data showed that as sperm production decreased there was no serious side effects caused. Further testing, between the time spans of 60 to 90 days is the next phase to be carried out. This second trial will determine the drug’s effectiveness as a form of contraception. However, it was resolved that ultimately it can take up to possibly 10 years for the pill to be available to the commercial market.

Despite the additional research underway, the positive results shown have produced the necessary step needed to go farther into the study. Lead researcher at LA BioMed, Christina Wang, concluded encouragingly:

Contraception is for healthy, younger couples. We have to make sure, 100% sure, that it’s not going to harm the person.”

It is evident the research that the scientists are carrying out will surely bring hope and a much-needed safe option for males in the near future.

 

References:

  1. A New Male Birth Control Pill is Being Tested. Here’s What to Know, March 2019, Time Health 
  2. Second potential male birth control pill passes human safety tests, March 2019, Eurekalert
  3. Hopes rise for male contraceptive pill breakthrough, March 2019, TheGuardian
  4. Early test of male birth control pill shows no safety problems, March 2019, Reuters