A team from the University of Washington has already conducted successful human trials with 40 participants.
Researchers are developing contraceptive control pills for men that may hit the market in another 10 years. Not only that, but scientists are also working on a birth control gel that men can apply onto their shoulders and backs daily to decrease testosterone levels reports the BBC. While all these developments have taken place, there are not too many pharmaceutical companies who are enthusiastic about the same. Even as the initial human test of the birth control pill for men has already been done, it could take some more time for the product to actually come to the market. The contraceptive pill is being developed by Professor Christina Wang and her colleagues at the University of Washington. Wang and her team are also working on a gel-based contraceptive as part of an international trial. It was around 50 years ago that the female pill was launched in the UK for birth control. For men, however, condoms or a vasectomy are the only two birth control options currently available. Despite cutting edge findings in the field of male contraceptives, most companies have not come forward to put these researches into commercial gains. Some say this is less societal and commercial will to get a male pill off the ground.
However, opinion polls conducted on the issue have found that more men are willing to consider taking the contraceptive if a pill did become available. Despite the pill becoming available, there are concerns if a man would take them faithfully. As many as 70 out of 134 women say they worry that their male partner would forget to take a pill according to a survey carried out by the Anglia Ruskin University, in 2011. In developing a hormone-based birth control pill for men, the challenge was making sure that it doesn't blunt sex drive or reduce erections.
Among fertile men, new sperm cells are produced in the testicles, triggered by hormones. Temporarily blocking this effect without lowering hormone levels to such an extent that it creates side-effects is the challenge that researchers are working on. The initial tests of the pill took place with 40 men and looked promising. The trials went on for 28 days of the study in which 10 of the participants took a placebo, and 30 took the experimental male pill called the 11-beta-MNTDC.
The levels of hormones required for sperm production dropped greatly in the first group returning to normal after the trial. There were also very few side-effects such as mildly decreased sex drive in three men, mild erectile dysfunction in two. However, no participant stopped taking it because of side-effects. "Our results suggest that this pill, which combines two hormonal activities in one, will decrease sperm production while preserving libido," said Prof Wang.
While they are cautiously excited about the findings they believe bigger and longer trials are needed. Meanwhile, Professor Wang and her colleagues have also been testing another compound - DMAU - that they believe men could take as an oral daily contraceptive pill. A trial involving 100 men has been suggested. Male contraceptive pills are however not the only hormone-based male contraceptive Prof. Wang has been testing.
She and her colleagues have also been developing a gel-based contraceptive for men in the UK. The gel will be absorbed through the skin and blocks natural testosterone production in the testicles, reducing sperm production to low or nonexistent levels. Besides pills and gels, scientists have also been working on a polymer material named 'Vasalgel' that is injected into the two ducts that transport sperm from the testicles to the penis.
It is being developed as a non-hormonal, reversible, long-acting male contraceptive. So far, it has been tested in animals only - but the researchers behind it have recently received funding to look to begin human trials. Prof. Richard Anderson, of the University of Edinburgh, is leading one of the UK trials that will test a contraceptive body gel on men. He said the pharmaceutical industry had been slow to get behind the idea of a new male contraceptive despite good evidence that both men and their female partners would welcome the additional choice.
Prof. Anderson added, "I think that industry has not been convinced about the potential market. It's certainly been a long story - part of it is lack of investment. With little industry involvement, researchers had had to rely on charitable and academic funding, which took time." Allan Pacey, professor of andrology, at the University of Sheffield, said, "The development of a male birth control pill, or injection, has had a chequered history without much success so far and so it is good to see that new preparations are being tested. Unfortunately, so far, there has been very little pharmaceutical company interest in bringing a male contraceptive pill to the market, for reasons that I don't fully understand but I suspect are more down to business than science."Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.