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Contraceptive pill for MEN could be coming soon

Currently men have just two birth control options - condoms or a vasectomy.

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doctor in blue latex gloves holding a large round pill, male in uniform
(MorphoBio via Shutterstock)

By Mark Waghorn via SWNS

A contraceptive pill for MEN could be on the horizon, scientists revealed.

In clinical trials, two different drugs reduced production of testosterone and sperm.

Most participants were willing to continue with treatment, suggesting no unacceptable side effects, researchers said.

The compounds are part of a class of medications called progestogenic androgens that suppress the male sex hormone - lowering sperm count.

Scientists have been trying to develop an effective male oral contraceptive for decades.

Targeting testosterone has previously led to obesity, depression and high cholesterol.

Women have many choices for birth control, ranging from pills to patches to intrauterine devices.

As a result, they bear most of the burden of preventing pregnancy. Men have just two - condoms or a vasectomy.

The former are single-use only and prone to failure. The latter is surgical sterilization which is expensive to reverse - and not always successful.

Men need an effective, long-lasting contraceptive - similar to the women's pill, say the US team.

Dr. Tamar Jacobsohn, of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and a lead author of the study said: "Male contraception options are currently restricted to vasectomy and condoms, and are thus extremely limited as compared to female options.

"Development of an effective, reversible male contraceptive method will improve reproductive options for men and women, have a major impact on public health by decreasing unintended pregnancy, and allow men to have an increasingly active role in family planning."

In the study both drugs, known as DMAU and 11β-MNTDC, were tested on 96 healthy men.

In each trial, the volunteers were randomly assigned to receive two or four oral pills or a placebo daily for 28 days.

After a week on the active drugs, testosterone dropped. In men taking the placebo, levels remained within the normal range.

Three in four - or 75 percent - of the former group said they would be willing to use it them future, compared with fewer than half - or 46 percent - of the latter.

Men who took the four-pill daily dose of 400 milligrams had lower levels of testosterone than those taking the two 200mg dose.

There was no significant difference in satisfaction with either drug, use them again or recommend them to others.

Jacobsohn added: "Men's positive experiences in clinical trials and high ratings of acceptability for this male pill should serve to excite the public about male birth control being potentially widely available in the coming decades."

The next step will be to confirm the fall stops women getting pregnant. Scientists have tested numerous pills, injections and gels to find an alternative.

The study presented at a meeting of the Endocrine Society in Atlanta is among the most promising to date - offering real hope of bringing the male pill to fruition.

It would help reduce unintended pregnancies and abortions, as well as improving maternal health and decreasing infant mortality.

The female pill has enabled millions of women take control of their fertility and reproductive health since it became available in 1961.

Its convenience and non-invasiveness has provided little incentive for pharmaceutical giants to develop a male equivalent.

A recent study that injected men with testosterone and progestogen - similar to hormones found in the female pill - had to be stopped early.

Pregnancy rates for female partners of men receiving the injections fell below that typically seen for women on the pill.

Adverse side effects included acne, mood disorders and raised libido. They proved too severe - despite the desired drop in sperm production.

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