According to a recent medical conference held, the male contraceptive pills have successfully passed the human safety tests.
The main target for these male contraceptive pills is to stop sperm production by the help of adequate concentration of hormones. It is hoped that this once-daily pill would be highly welcomed by condoms and vasectomy, the only birth control options available for men.
Surprisingly, the doctors at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting were informed that these male contraceptive pills still could cover a period of a decade to enter the market.
Blunting sex drive and reducing erections
Female birth control pills came to market 50 years back. Then why the male contraceptive pills are taking so long?
According to some people, there is less societal and commercial support but the opinion poll suggests otherwise that is, if the male contraceptive pills enter the market then many men will consider having it.
Another issue which needs to be highlighted is about the trust women would have on men about taking the pills.
As per the 2011 UK survey carried by Anglia Ruskin University, there would be 70 out of 134 women who will be anxious about their male partner having the pill or not. The main goal is to create such male contraceptive pills which would not blunt sex drive or reduce erections.
Controlling sperm production
In fertile men, due to the continuous action of hormones, sperm cells are constantly being developed in testicles.
In order to achieve the birth controlling effect, the pill has to lower the hormone levels to such an extent that it temporarily stops sperm production. However, the main thing is to control hormone levels without triggering other side effects.
The researchers from LA BioMed and the University of Washington affirm that their new male contraceptive pill has this potential and thus can achieve the goal easily.
The researchers told in the meeting that the first initial testing phase in 40 men showed promising results. For the conduction of study, 30 men out of these 40 took the testing pill (11-beta-MNTDC) while rest took placebo pills for consecutive 28 days.
The data analysis showed that hormones levels required for sperm production greatly dropped in the people who were consuming experimental pills as compared to the placebo ones and hormone levels were further restored too by the end of the trial.
Will this pill cause male erectile dysfunction?
Some side effects were also observed during the clinical trial but were few and mild. Five of the men reported having a mild decrease in sex drive and two of the participants complained about mild erectile dysfunction.
Despite these mild side effects, no participant was found who stopped taking the pills and passed all the safety tests.
The researchers are proud and excited by their findings, however, are a little cautious too. “Our results suggest that this pill, which combines two hormonal activities in one, will decrease sperm production while preserving libido,” she said.
The emphasized that longer trials are needed to make sure that it will work best for birth control.
Body gel or male birth pills
Professor Wang is not only working on this prototype hormone-based male contraceptive but also focusing on making a gel. She and his team members will try this body gel in the UK as a part of an international trial.
The men have to use it regularly on their back and shoulders where it will be easily absorbed by the skin. The gel blocks contain progestin hormone, which helps in blocking the production of testosterone in the testicles. Thus sperm production is decreased or becomes totally zero.
The replacement of testosterone in the gel block will help to restore the conditions without affecting sex drive and other hormone-based functions.
Till then Professor Wang, Dr. Stephanie Page, and their team members are working on another compound that is DMAU. They believe that working on this will help the populace by taking it as a daily contraceptive pill. A clinical trial in 100 men has proved that it is safe enough to enter the next testing phase.
Is mood disorder a side effect of birth male contraceptive pills?
The other scientists are working on male contraceptive pills which can produce a longer hormonal effect. However, they immediately stopped after the participants complained about having mood disorders. The phase two could not be continued due to reported side effects including mood disorders and depression.
For the men who are not interested in taking hormones, researchers are working to produce different technique by which they can stop the flow of sperms from the penis; more like a non-surgical vasectomy.
Till now it has only been tested in animals, but the trial may continue in humans as the researchers have recently received the funding.
Richard Anderson, an associate professor of the University of Edinburgh is leading a UK clinical trial to test the contraceptive body gel on humans. He asserts that despite the fact both women and men will welcome any new idea of a male contraceptive, the pharmaceutical industry has been showing least interest.
“I think that industry has not been convinced about the potential market,” he said. “It’s certainly been a long story – part of it is lack of investment.”
As due to the little interest of industries in the research, the researchers had to depend on funding and charity which obviously took time.
Professor Allan Pacey of the University of Sheffield said: “The development of a male birth control pill, or injection, has had a chequered history without much success so far and so it is good to see that new preparations are being tested.
“The key will be if there is enough pharmaceutical company interest to bring this product to market if their trials are successful.
“Unfortunately, so far, there has been very little pharmaceutical company interest in bringing a male contraceptive pill to the market, for reasons that I don’t fully understand but I suspect is more down to business than science.”