New male birth control pill found safe and effective

Men could be taking birth control pills soon after scientists said a study found an experimental oral contraceptive shows promise. File

Men could be taking birth control pills soon after scientists said a study found an experimental oral contraceptive shows promise. File

The latest effort to come up with a male birth control pill has found a formulation that appears to be safe.

"DMAU is a major step forward in the development of a once-daily "male pill"," said Page, a senior investigator on the study.

Recent clinical tests on a male contraceptive pill have yielded successful results, possibly suggesting that a once-a-day oral contraceptive option might soon join injections and gels among the birth control options for men. The study included 100 healthy men, ages 18 to 50 years old, and took place at the University of Washington Medical Center and at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California. DMAU works by suppressing several hormones, including testosterone, required for sperm production, and the first study of 100 men found that a once daily dosage, over time, hit levels low enough to limit the amount of sperm. However, scientists are developing those types of male contraceptive methods, as well.

Researchers who conducted a month-long trial involving 83 men said the once-daily pill lowered hormone levels similarly to other forms of longer-term contraceptives-without signs of testosterone deficiency or excess. Unlike other forms of oral testosterone, which classically are cleared from the body quickly, this compound contains a specific long-chain fatty acid that slows this clearance making it a flawless "once-a-day" pill. The men took the contraceptive or a placebo once a day for 28 days with food.

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Decreased sex drive can also be a side effect of low testosterone levels, but again, only a small number of participants (eight who took the drug) reported this side effect. Daily oral administration of dimethandrolone undecanoate is well tolerated and is associated with reduced serum testosterone levels into the hypogonadal range, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of The Endocrine Society, held from March 17 to 20 in Chicago. The next batch of men will be tested for a three-month period. DMAU must be taken with food to be effective, said Page. A team of Australian researchers has been working to develop a novel non-hormonal form of male contraceptive that blocks sperm transport instead of disrupting sperm maturation. It would work by blocking two proteins that cause sperms to be released, according to the lead researcher Dr Sab Ventura.

As a result, men are not able to get their partners pregnant. All passed safety tests including those suggestive of liver and kidney health, a hurdle previous attempts at male contraceptives have failed to meet.

DMAU could provide a more updated approach to male contraception, similar to the contraception women use.

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