Jul 17, 2019 | Updated: 11:17 AM EDT

New Male Birth Control Has Passed Human Safety Tests

Mar 28, 2019 09:13 AM EDT

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Male birth control could be the wave of the future when it comes to planned parenthood. A recent study has the new contraceptive showing hormone responses consistent with similar yet effective contraception, according to researchers. The study involved 40 healthy men from the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle and the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute in Torrance, California. Ten men randomly received a placebo capsule and 30 others a 11-beta-MNTDC at one of two doses - 14 men at 200mg and 16 at 400mg. Participants took the drug or placebo once daily for 28 days.

Researchers found that the experimental male oral contraceptive decreased sperm production while preserving libido. Four to six men who took the birth control regardless of dosage level reported a few mild side effects, including fatigue, acne and headaches. Five men said they experienced a mildly decreased sex drive and two men mild erectile dysfunction. Overall, sexual activity was not decreased, said Christina Wang, a professor of medicine at UCLA in Los Angeles. None of the participants stopped taking the drug because of side effects. The effects are reversible after stopping treatment. "Safe, reversible hormonal male contraception should be available in about 10 years," Wang added in a statement.

"There were no serious adverse events or significant clinical concerns," researchers said in an abstract of the study, which was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

"The goal is to find the compound that has the fewest side effects and is the most effective," said Stephanie Page, a professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, in a news release. "We are developing two oral drugs in parallel in an attempt to move the [contraceptive medicine] field forward."

Since the birth control takes at least 60 to 90 days to affect sperm production, 28 days of taking the pill is too short of an interval to observe optimal sperm suppression, Wang said. Researchers are planning longer studies. If the drug is effective, it will move to larger studies, testing it in sexually active couples. Birth control 11-Beta-MNTDC is a "sister compound" to dimethandrolone undecanoate, the first potential male birth control pill tested by the same researchers. Wang also stated the drug's effect on sperm production could take up to three months to set in.

That could prove a barrier for users, said Dr. Bobby Najari, director of male fertility at NYU Langone. A pill that takes months to kick in feels less "immediately on and off as female contraception," he said.

On a more positive note, this medicine could prove to be extremely helpful in today's society, where many unplanned, unwanted or accidental pregnancies result in adoption or even worse, abandonment or the ever controversial abortion.

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