Male Birth Control Pill Shown to Be Safe in Early Trials

Desiree Steele
March 20, 2018

The brand-new innovative contraceptive pill for men contains DMAU (dimethandrolone undecanoate) and is made of a mixture of hormones, such as progestin and testosterone, and works similarly to the contraceptive pills for women.

"These promising results are unprecedented in the development of a prototype male pill", said Dr. Stephanie Page, senior researcher and University of Washington professor in a statement. Despite these incredibly low levels of testosterone, the men did not have symptoms of low testosterone.

Dr Page said longer term studies are now underway to confirm that when taken every day, DMAU blocks sperm production. 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. DMAU is developed by the National Institutes of Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, that also sponsored this study. This is why another male contraceptive just straight up blocks sperm; it only takes one to cause pregnancy, after all. According to the Daily Mail, men who took the pill suffered from acne and a slight gain in weight, but with no other physical side effects of note.

For now, even though the Male Contraceptive Initiative has provided a $US150,000 grant for the scientists to move into the next phase of developing the drug, Dr Ventura said how quick the pill is developed and released would depend on more funding.

The research examined ways around what previous studies had encountered - for example, men's bodies clear quicker than women's, meaning men would have to take twice the number of pills each day for the same effect.

Different doses of the pill were given to 83 men over the course of 28 days. The team is starting that trial now that they've shown the drug is safe in the short term.

The study was presented Sunday (March 18) at ENDO 2018, the Endocrine Society's 100th annual meeting in Chicago, and the findings have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. It's 99 per cent effective when taken perfectly, Planned Parenthood wrote, but added that it's hard to do this. "Testosterone production is blocked and therefore sperm are not able to finish their last stages of maturation", she said. They also found that the men who were taking DMAU passed checks of their kidney and liver functions, suggesting that the pills are safe.

"We're often asked if there was a contraceptive if men would be interested in using it", Page said. She explained that many men would opt for a once daily pill that provides them with reversible contraception rather than go in for topical gels or long acting injections of DMAU that would provide longer term contraception.

DMAU could provide a more updated approach to male contraception, similar to the contraception women use.

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