Male Birth Control Pill Shown to Be Safe in Early Trials

20 March, 2018, 04:49 | Author: Otis Hoffman
  • A contraceptive pill for men has come a step closer to development. Taken daily like the female Pill it switches off a man¿s testosterone and the hormones that cause sperm production

A male contraceptive pill for men may be safe for daily use, according to researchers at the University of Washington.

Like the pill for women, the experimental male oral contraceptive - called dimethandrolone undecanoate, or DMAU - combines activity of an androgen (male hormone) like testosterone, and a progestin, said Stephanie Page, a professor at the University of Washington in the US.

"Despite having low levels of circulating testosterone, very few subjects reported symptoms consistent with testosterone deficiency or excess", says Page.

Even though the researchers said they were "very excited" by the results, they haven't been testing it long enough to show whether it decreases sperm production, and they haven't shown whether it stops couples from conceiving. Each dose group included five men who were randomly assigned to receive an inactive placebo and another 12 to 15 men who were given the new pill. Other forms of contraceptive for men are also in development.

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However, all the men taking the male pill had weight gain and a drop in their HDL or good cholesterol levels. Apparently, researchers are close to developing male birth control pills along the lines of oral contraception that's been available for women since the 1960s. Unlike other forms of oral testosterone, which classically are cleared from the body quickly, this compound contains a specific long-chain fatty acid that slows this clearance making it a ideal "once-a-day" pill. The pills were taken for 28 days once daily with food. She added the current trial was to determine if the pill could be taken safely for more than one dose, but did not test its effectiveness as a contraceptive.

DMAU works by interrupting the signal between the brain and the testicles, Page said.

It is yet to be seen whether the drug proves to be a safe, effective contraceptive over long-term usage. Kidney and liver function were not impaired by DMAU in the study, US News reported. The study authors said there was "marked suppression" of testosterone and of two hormones necessary for a man to produce sperm for those who took 400mg of DMAU, the highest dose.

The results from the new DMAU study will be presented Sunday March 18 at ENDO 2018, the Endocrine Society's 100th annual meeting in Chicago, Ill. One of the major downsides of this medical innovation - and something which had been an issue before 1960 as well - is that women are often expected to deal with birth control by themselves. To salvage the situation, men would also now have an option to take a drug that prevents pregnancy, thanks to a male contraceptive pill that is being developed towards that regard.

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