A successful medical trial has brought the development of a male contraceptive pill forward after participants experienced very few side effects.
The pill, which limits sperm activity, was tested on 40 men in a month-long study, conducted by the University of Washington.
Researchers looked into the effectiveness of the once-daily capsule that suppresses the levels of the hormones which drive sperm and testosterone production.
Doctors found that the hormone levels in the men tested with the pill were significantly reduced, suggesting a lower sperm count.
However, as the primary aim of this trial was to determine the safety of the pills, doctors say that a longer trial will be needed to determine whether the levels are suppressed for a sufficient amount of time for the pill to be useable.
How the trial worked
Stephanie Page, a professor of medicine and co-senior investigator on the trial at the University of Washington in Seattle, told the Independent, “The goal is to expand contraceptive options and create a menu of choices for men like we have for women.
“We are neglecting a major potential user population with the limited options currently available to men.”
It is believed that the pill would be needed to be taken for a period of 60 to 90 days in order to affect sperm production sufficiently.
Forty men were trialled. Ten were given a placebo.
The other 30 men received 11-beta-MNTDC but in different doses. While 14 took a 200mg dose, the remaining 16 took a 400mg dose. Participants took the drug or placebo once daily with food for 28 days.
Any side effects reported were said to be mild, with a few men experiencing fatigue, acne or headaches. Five men reported a slightly decreased sex drive and two mild erectile dysfunction, but none experienced reduced sexual activity.
Nobody stopped taking the drug because of the side effects and all passed safety tests while they were using the pill.
Researchers speaking at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting, in New Orleans, said that it could still be a decade before the pill was ready to use.
The next stages in testing will be longer so they can be used to determine whether or not the drugs can sufficiently stop sperm production.
Demand is believed to be high. Reportedly, around 50 percent of men surveyed said they would be open to trying a male contraceptive pill. The rate of interest among partners of the men surveyed was even higher.