It looks like the Pill, which has been taken as a contraceptive by women for several decades, will now have an alternative that’s designed for men.
A recent study found that a trial pill was able to block sperm production in men while being safe for their health. The study was conducted at the University of Washington School of Medicine, with the research team being led by Dr. Stephanie Page.
The pill, which is made out of Dimethandrolone undecanoate (aka DMAU), was found to reduce testosterone levels and other hormones that spark sperm production. Dr. Page added that the goal was to develop a contraceptive method for men that has minimal side effects.
Serving as an androgen and a progestin, the pill provides an alternative to vasectomies, condoms and coitus interruptus. Some 40% of all pregnancies worldwide are actually unplanned, so there’s clearly an unmet need for new contraceptives, especially when it comes to men.
Some 83 men aged 18 to 50 participated in the study, and they were randomly assigned to one of three groups. The members of each group were given 100mg, 200mg and 400mg doses of the new pill respectively.
Following the 28-day trial period, participants’ testosterone levels were observed to have dropped to “castrate levels”, which is the ideal of testosterone in the blood after surgical or chemical castration. Furthermore, members of the 400mg group were observed to have had a drop in two hormones that regulated testosterone and sperm production.
Testosterone levels in a healthy man range from 350 to 1,100 nanograms per deciliter, and the pill managed to reduce their levels down to 13 nanograms per deciliter, which would be the testosterone levels normally associated with a pre-pubescent boy or teenage girl.
Just nine of the participants experienced a decreased libido, which would be a negligible amount if scaled up to a few million people.
Dr. Page noted that researchers have been working on male hormonal contraception for some 40 to 50 Years without that much success. Although long-acting implants and injections have been developed, men have always been interested in having an oral pill available, and this research represents a step forward in that area.
Simply reducing men’s testosterone levels down to the levels observed in the study would result in side effects similar to those experienced by women when they go through menopause. This includes marked changes in sexual desire and function here.
As a result, it’s important to point out that this pill includes a steroid to provide androgen activity in all other parts of the men’s bodies. The problem with the study conducted is that its timeframe didn’t allow for the researchers to be able to say what the long-term effects of taking it would be, however they did establish what could become a potentially safe dosage.
The next step with this pill is to trial it over three months, and that is in the pipeline in the near future. Longer-term studies will still be needed to fine-tune any potential side effects, as well couple studies to demonstrate that it actually works in the real world.
Images by Deposit Photos.