Male contraception pill showing promise in early trials

(WSVN) - A birth control pill for men could soon be a reality.

The new pill contains a combination of hormones, including testosterone and progestin, to bring a man’s sperm count low enough so he cannot get his partner pregnant, according to US News and World Report.

One hundred men from the ages of 18 to 50 participated in the study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Like female contraception, the dimethandrolone undecanoate pill (or DMAU) is taken daily. Subjects in the study had a “marked suppression” of the hormones required for sperm production, the researchers noted.

“Many men say they would prefer a daily pill as a reversible contraceptive, rather than long-acting injections or topical gels, which are also in development,” said Dr. Stephanie Page, the study’s senior investigator and a professor of medicine at the University of Washington. “We’re selling men short if we don’t think they’re ready to embrace new options for contraception.”

Researchers said that, while low testosterone levels usually can lead to decreased sex drive and fatigue, most of the study’s subjects did not appear to experience those side effects.

“We did mood questionnaires as well as questionnaires about sexual behaviors and sexual function and desire,” Dr. Page said. “Those were no different in the men who got the placebo versus the treatment group.”

The new pill appears to overcome the problems that plagued previous oral contraceptives for men, which led to liver inflammation and toxicity. But DMAU does not appear to do so.

“There was no evidence of liver toxicity. We did see mild weight gain and an increase in cholesterol levels and that may require us to fine tune the dosing, but overall we are very encouraged about the safety profile of dimethandrolone,” Dr. Page told MedPageToday.

The next step is a three-month trial, followed by a year-long trial if the first one is successful. But Dr. Page notes that it could take nearly a decade before the pill is available as a prescription due to the length of the trials and FDA approval process.

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