A new contraceptive for men may be on the horizon.
While female contraceptives (the pill, intrauterine devices, hormonal implants) have been widely used among women to prevent pregnancy, male contraceptives have remained at a standstill, leaving them with only two options: condoms or vasectomies.
But thing are about to change, as birth control shots may be an option in preventing unintended pregnancies, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. “The study found it is possible to have a hormonal contraceptive for men that reduces the risk of unplanned pregnancies in the partners of men who use it,” said study author Dr. Mario Philip Reyes Festin of the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, informs Medical Daily.
Researchers have tested over the years several methods, including the male pill (which are able to deactivate the protein enabling sperm to swim – if the sperm cell can’t swim, the egg can’t be fertilized), and the male birth control shot, using synthetic hormones to temporarily block the effects of testosterone so the testicles stop producing healthy sperm cells. But this have been a difficult feat since men constantly produce sperm. And the whole thing needs to be achieved without lowering testosterone levels – which could lead to libido loss.
Researchers at the Guttmacher Institute tested the safety and effectiveness of injectable contraceptives in 320 healthy men ages 18 to 45 with 200 mg of a long-acting progestogen called norethisterone enanthate (NET-EN) and 1,000 mg of a long-acting androgen called testosterone undecanoate (TU) for up to 26 weeks to lower their sperm counts. As a result, the hormones were effective in reducing the sperm count to 1 million/ml or less within 24 weeks in 274 of the participants. The method was effective in nearly 96% of continuing users. However, side effects as depression, mood disorders, injection site pain, muscle pain, increased libido and acne have been observed.