A new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism revealed men taking shots to prevent pregnancy in their female partners.
More research is currently ongoing, aiming at improving the combination of hormonal contraceptives, in order to reduce the risk of side effects, which currently range from mild to moderate. These include depression, as well as other mood disorders.
Contraceptive methods are not as varied for men as they are for women, and the currently available means are condoms, vasectomies and withdrawal. Research on these contraceptive means is all the more important, as approximately 40 percent of the pregnancies in the world were unintended in 2012.
The study tested the safety and effectiveness of injectable contraceptives in a number of 320 men, aged 18 to 45. The members who participated in the study were involved in monogamous relationships with female partners, between the ages 18 and 38, for a year. The men participated to testing in order to make sure that sperm count was within normal ranges at the beginning of the study, being injected two shots a month.
During this phase of the trial, the couples were recommended to use contraceptives which were not hormone-based, in order not to influence the treatment and the volunteers' responses.
The moment when the men's sperm count was lowered to less than 1million/ml in two tests that took place one after another, the couples started using the injections as an exclusive contraceptive means.
This part of the trial was called the efficacy phase, where men still received injections every eight weeks, for up to 56 weeks. The process further involved providing semen samples whenever they would be given a shot, in order for the researchers to make sure the sperm count is not increasing and the method is efficient.
The contraceptive method was only effective 96 percent of the time in the continuing users; there were 4 pregnancies that occurred among the men's sexual partners during the period of efficacy of this study.
The scientists stopped the enrolling process of the new participants in 2011, because of the number of disorders that were reported in the study; however, approximately 75 percent of the men reported they would use the contraception if given the possibility.
The study will need more research before the medicine will be publicly available. One of the possible effects that could be tested include psychological side effects. Previous research suggested that women undergoing hormonal contraceptive methods had a bigger risk to develop depression in the process.
The Future Of Contraceptives
Contraceptive have become increasingly popular during the past two decades worldwide, and scientific efforts are directed towards making them more available to the public they're targeting. For instance, phone apps have started to offer online birth control for women, starting as early as the age of 14.
As male contraception evolves and has started to be a primary concern for the researchers in the field, men should also be able to use hormone-less contraceptives by 2018. The prototype of the medicine is similar in administration to the one in the current study, being taken as an injection, but it shouldn't cause the hormonal changes reported in the other cases. This contraceptive means was not yet tried on a human population.