Male contraceptive treatment on the horizon

Posted on 2017-12-22

The female contraceptive pill is over 60 years old. It was approved by the FDA in 1960 as the first birth control of its kind preventing millions of unwanted births since its creation. In this time there has been little advancements for male contraception, leaving the sole responsibility to the woman, unless you choose to wear a condom.

There have been a few different approaches to develop a reversible or temporary male contraceptive. One is a gel that is inserted into the tube connecting to the testes to block sperm getting through however, the procedure doesn't sound like an overall pleasant experience.

Researchers from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development have had a topical cream in the works for quite a few years now with clinical trials starting soon. The treatment is a combination of two creams which resulted in the reduction of sperm count to 1 million per millilitre which is much lower than the normal 15 - 200 million per millilitre required to result in pregnancy.

Originally, for the creams to work they would need to be applied in two separate areas of the body, which is impractical but fortunately, this obstacle has solved.

The chemicals in the cream are synthetic versions of the hormones progesterone and testosterone. The combination of chemicals works by a progesterone analogue called, Nesterone, which competes with the body's natural testosterone stop sperm cells maturing whilst the synthetic testosterone helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormone.

"I am very confident that if men put the gel on every day and apply it correctly, it will be effective," Stephanie Page, principal investigator and a professor of medicine at the University of Washington told Emily Mullin at MIT Technology Review.

Participates in the trial will apply the cream to their upper arm or shoulder area every day for a few months while sperm levels are monitored. After which, they will be given the go-ahead to discontinue use of any other form of contraceptive with their partners.

If the trial is a success, we should see this treatment available in the next few years after it passes regulations, adding to the limit choices of contraceptives for men.

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