What’s that I hear? Hormonal birth control for MEN?

Over the last year or so, you may have heard tidbits of information about a type of birth control being studied on men.  There’s long been a need for a reversible form of contraception for men.  Pills, injections, gels, have all scored high on surveys for types of contraception men would be willing to take to prevent pregnancy.  The NIH has identified reversible male contraception as an area needing development.

So what’s been going on in the world of research to make this a reality?

In 2012, a gel made of testosterone and a progestin was shown to be safe and to help suppress sperm production.  A longer, 4 year trial is starting later this year to establish how effective it is.  If successful, this is a gel that men would apply to their shoulders or arms once a day.

A compound known as dimethandrolone undecanoate (DMAU), which contains both an androgen and a progestin, has been established as safe and somewhat effective.   It is currently being studied in Washington and California for effectiveness.  If proven effective, men would take this pill once a day.

There are some men who prefer a monthly (or less) injectable form of birth control, to avoid having to remember taking something every day.   DMAU is also currently being studied in an injectable format for safety and tolerance.   This study started 1.5 years ago and has 1.5 years to go.      

Take home points:

  • Men do want a reversible hormonal birth control option
  • The NIH is giving focus to this area of pharmaceutical development
  • There are at least three types of hormonal birth control being studied currently, some entering Phase 2 trials and some still in Phase 1 testing.
  • It’s just a matter of time before a product is available, but how much time? Definitely not going to be commercially available in the next 5+ years, so women must still ensure they have an effective form of birth control if they are not planning for pregnancy.

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