The testing of a new male birth control pill means we are closer to producing effective oral contraception for men.
The pill, known as 11-beta-MNTDC, has passed the first round of rigorous human safety tests, with research from the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute and the University of Washington showing promising results. Unlike other male contraceptives that have been previously tested, this drug managed to safely reduce hormones required for sperm reduction without drastically affecting men's sex drives or sexual performance.
“Our results suggest that this pill, which combines two hormonal activities in one, will decrease sperm production while preserving libido,” Dr Christina Wang from LA BioMed said in a report. These results are groundbreaking, but it is still very early in the drugs inception. It is yet to be submitted for approval by the Good and Drug Administration.
It could still be 10 years before we see male contraception as a readily available product.
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The initial study involved 40 healthy men, with 14 receiving 200mg of the 11-beta-MNTDC drug, 16 receiving 400mg, and the rest receiving a placebo. The doses were taken daily with food for 28 days. On average, the men receiving doses of the drug experienced a drop in testosterone levels without experiencing any severe side effects. The study also found the effects of the drug were reversible after stopping treatment.
According to Dr Wang, between four and six men experienced mild side effects like fatigue, acne or headaches. These are common effects experienced by women who take the contraceptive pill.
This male contraceptive works by acting as a synthetic form of testosterone, professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Stephanie Page said.
“11-beta-MNTDC mimics testosterone through the rest of the body but is not concentrated enough in the testes to support sperm production,” Dr Page said. “We are developing two oral drugs in parallel in an attempt to move the (contraceptive medicine) field forward.”