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Male Birth Control Pill Is Safe To Use, But Is It Effective At Preventing Pregnancy?

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Findings of a clinical trial that involved male participants between 18 and 50 years old have revealed that the formulation used in an experimental male birth control pill appears safe to use.

DMAU Male Birth Control Pill

The contraceptive pill known as DMAU for its chemical name, dimethandrolone undecanoate, works the same way as female birth control pills. When taken as prescribed, this pill could prevent a man from getting his partner pregnant.

In a preliminary study, Stephanie Page, from the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, and colleagues found that the drug appears safe for everyday use.

Drug Safety And Side Effects

The development of an earlier version of male contraceptive pill was halted when the drug was shown to cause damage to the liver.

The new pill was deemed safe in the clinical trial. All study participants passed the safety tests, which include markers of liver and kidney function. Only a few of the participants complained about side effects, none of which were considered severe. All those who took the drug experienced weight gain and reduced good cholesterol levels.

The drug also appeared to act in ways that suggest it could potentially block sperm production in men who took the experimental pill every day for a month.

Longer Studies Needed To Confirm Efficacy Of DMAU Male Contraceptive Pill

Researchers, however, said that further studies are still needed to verify that the pill can indeed block sperm production.

The study, results of which were presented at the Endocrine Society's 100th annual meeting in Chicago, on Sunday, March 18, tested the safety of the pill when used for a period of one month. It did not test the drug long enough to show that it could lower sperm count.

The study did not also show if the pill could stop couples from conceiving, and it only involved a small number of participants. The researchers said that further study is needed to confirm the findings and to further examine the safety of the drug.

"These promising results are unprecedented in the development of a prototype male pill," Page said. "Longer term studies are currently under way to confirm that DMAU taken every day blocks sperm production."

Male Contraception

In the absence of a male contraceptive pill, the most common methods of contraception among men include use of condoms, withdrawal, outercourse, and vasectomy.

There were earlier concerns that vasectomy increases risk for an aggressive form of prostate cancer. A 2016 study by the American Cancer Society, however, ruled out this link.

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