There's hope that men will be able to take contraceptives in the future as an experimental male birth control pill passes preliminary testing with flying colors.
Results of the clinical trial were presented at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting on Sunday, March 24, in New Orleans, Louisiana.
New Birth Control Pill For Men Undergoes Testing
Led by Stephanie Page of the University of Washington School of Medicine and Christina Wang of the University of California, Los Angeles, the team reveal that their clinical trials included 40 healthy men who took the birth control pill every day for 28 days.
According to the study, 30 of the participants took a modified testosterone pill that's a mix of male hormone androgen and progesterone. The 10 remaining men took a placebo.
"It's one pill with two hormonal actions," Wang says. "Although the body's production of testosterone is lower ... the compound will support sex function, retain muscle mass, and all the good things that the male hormone does for the body."
What To Expect From Male Contraceptives
The pill, called 11-beta-methyl-19-nortestosterone dodecylcarbonate, or 11-Beta-MNTDC, was able to preserve libido while decreasing sperm production.
While a number of mild side effects were reported, such as fatigue, acne, and headache, none of the men dropped out of the study due to severe side effects. Five men reported mild decrease of sex drive and two others reported mild erectile dysfunction, but sexual activity was reportedly not decreased.
Low testosterone had minimal effects, since the 11-Beta-MNTDC mimics testosterone throughout the body without supporting sperm production.
It should be noted that because the pill takes 60 to 90 days to affect sperm production, the 28-day trial period was not enough time to observe how truly effective it is in sperm suppression.
The 11-Beta-MNTDC is a "sister compound" to the dimethandrolone undecanoate (DMAU), which was the first male birth control pill to undergo testing. The trials for DMAU, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, were also conducted by the same research team.
"The goal is to find the compound that has the fewest side effects and is the most effective," Page explains, adding that the team is developing two different drugs as an attempt to move the field of contraceptive medicine forward.
Wang predicts that safe, reversible hormonal male contraception will be available to the public in 10 years.