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Trial finds male birth control gel safe and effective

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Posted at 4:33 PM, Jun 03, 2024

(WXYZ) — Scientists report promising results for an innovative form of birth control for men.

This hormonal gel has been shown to effectively reduce sperm production in clinical trials.

This potential birth control for men contains testosterone and Nestorone. Nestorone is a synthetic progestin, a type of hormone used in contraceptive methods. The results from the phase-two trial showed that the gel successfully decreased sperm production in men.

Now, a total of 222 men took part in this study — all between the ages of 18 and 50. Every day, they applied about a teaspoon of the gel to each shoulder blade.

Researchers monitored their sperm production every four weeks. By the 12th week, 86% of the men experienced a decrease in sperm count, making pregnancy unlikely.

On average, effective contraception was achieved within eight weeks, which was faster than previous methods tested.

Also, participants maintained testosterone levels that did not affect their sex drive, and no adverse side effects were reported. The second phase of the study is still in progress, with researchers monitoring the effectiveness of the gel in preventing pregnancy.

A phase-3 trial for this potential male contraception gel is still needed. On average, it costs $1 billion to $2 billion to get a drug to market. For this product, funding from a partner like a major pharmaceutical company is essential. But so far, none have stepped up.

As for non-hormonal options, a San Francisco-based biopharmaceutical company called YourChoice Therapeutics found its non-hormonal pill safe in a small UK trial with 16 men. The pill works by blocking a vitamin A receptor that’s needed for male fertility. The company is now planning a much larger study.

Also, a Virginia medical device company called Contraline is testing its non-hormonal male birth control method. It involves a 15-minute procedure where a gel is injected into the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles. An early trial in Australia showed a 99.8% to 100% reduction in motile sperm within 30 days for 25 participants. Contraline aims to start trials in the U.S. in 2025.

I support male contraception because it would give men greater control over their reproductive health and help them share the responsibility of preventing pregnancies. It would also provide more birth control options, especially for women who aren’t able to use hormonal methods due to side effects or medical reasons.