A new pill may have just paved the way for the development of a once-daily male contraceptive pill. Previous efforts to develop an oral male contraceptive have failed because the drug leaves the male body very quickly. This is because men metabolize faster and clear out the hormones delivered by the drug really quickly. This would mean the men would have to take the pill twice a day for it to be effective.
According to Telegraph, a preliminary study on the pill called Dimethandorolone Undecanoate or DMAU was carried out by researchers at The University of Washington Medical Centre. They enlisted 83 men between the ages of 18-50 to take part in the study. Though the studies are yet to be published in any journal, the results were promising and marked the beginning of perfecting a male contraceptive pill.
As of now, the only approved methods of male contraception include; using a condom, coitus interputus (withdrawal during intercourse), and having a vasectomy. However, the vasectomy is a permanent method of contraception which requires minimally invasive surgery.
How the pill works
Like the female contraceptive pill, DMAU combines two hormones. It contains testosterone which is the male androgen and progestin. The pill includes a long chain fatty acid which slows down the clearance, allowing it to be taken once a day.
During the study, the drug was tested in 3 doses- 100mg, 200mg, and 400mg. All the 83 participants of the study were subject to blood sampling for hormone and cholesterol levels during the first and last days of the 28-day experiment. The pill was administered orally every day.
The results showed that the pill worked only if it was taken with food. Those who swallowed the highest dose which was 400 mg marked suppression levels of their testosterone and two other hormones required for sperm production. The levels dropped to what scientists call castrate level. According to Seth Cohen, a urologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, normal testosterone in a healthy man starts anywhere from 350- 1,100 nanograms per deciliter. The study recorded that there were men whose testosterone who went as low as 13 nanograms per deciliter. This is well below the 50 nanograms per deciliter threshold considered to be chemical castration. This means that at this level, no sperm production can take place.
All the men passed the tests done on their liver and kidneys. The pill had no adverse effects on the functions of these organs as has been the case with previous pill samples. 9 out of the 83 men reported experiencing reduced libido which is also a side effect for some women. Some women also report reduced sex drive when they are on the pill.
A few of the men also recorded mild weight gain of about 9 pounds and reduced High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL)
which is considered to be ‘good’ cholesterol. Even though all men recorded a major drop in testosterone, very few men exhibited symptoms consistent with testosterone deficiency. This is because the DMUA pill contains other hormones that mimic the effects of testosterone. A few participants also showed symptoms of excess production of testosterone.
There was no significant change in the mood of the participant and most importantly no change in their sexual performance. This was a major cause of worry beforehand because normally, reduced testosterone causes changes in mood and eventually, problems having an erection. So lack of these effects was a major win.
However, Doctor Stephanie Page, the lead author of the study stated that the some of the side effects recorded such as reduced libido are very common to most pharmaceutical standards and affect a limited number of people. She also expressed the need to test the drug for more than a month to see any long time side effects. There is also need to expand the number of participants to get a clearer range of the number of people who are likely to experience side effects.
Pros of DMAU
- It is a temporary method of male contraception as opposed to a vasectomy and long-term injections thus one can stop taking it at their own leisure.
- As opposed to other methods of contraception that include gel lubrication, it is convenient. You can easily pack them in your bag or pocket and carry them wherever you go. You can also use an everyday reminder on your phone to ensure you never miss a dose.
- It gives the men control over their own lives. Most men say that the decision to have children or terminate pregnancies is often left to the woman. They cannot trust a woman who says that she is on the pill. This gives them the opportunity to control decisions on issues such as when to sire children.
- It is more dependable than temporary methods of contraception such as coitus interuptus.
- The drug registered no damage to internal organs such as the liver and kidneys.
Cons of DMAU
- Unlike a condom, a woman cannot confirm that the man is on the pill. Thus the pill is only effective if both parties agree and follow up on it. A woman can be easily duped to think that she is safe.
- The man may experience a few of the side effects mentioned above. However, it is important to note that even the female contraceptive pill approved more than 50 years ago, still has side effects.
- Just like the female contraceptive pill, you need to take it every day. This can be a nuisance since nobody wants to be tied to taking pills every day.
- Unlike condoms, it does not give protection from Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
Are you having the contraceptives discussion with your partner? Not having the conversation upfront might make that romantic moment awkward – check out Life Like A Lady Part 8: Me, Him & The Awkward Contraceptives Conversation In the Middle Of A Steamy Romantic Moment.
Featured image via https://www.videoblocks.com