The world’s first injectable male contraceptive is a step closer to reality, Australian scientists have said.
A five-year study, conducted by the ANZAC Research Institute in Sydney, involved 55 men using hormonal injections and implants as birth control.
None of the men’s partners conceived and there were no side effects compared to other trials, which have been terminated due to unforeseen problems.
The contraceptive works by inhibiting sperm production through injections of progestin every three months.
Since this hormone also reduces the sex drive, testosterone had to be implanted under the men’s skin every four months to maintain their libido.
After a 12-month period, participants would stop the treatment to recover their fertility.
It is a method that proved entirely successful for Chris Hains, a police officer from Sydney, whose wife became pregnant seven months after he stopped taking the injections, according to media reports.
“This is the first time a reversible male contraceptive that will suppress sperm production reliably and reversibly has been fully tested by couples,” Professor David Handelsman, the study’s director, was quoted by Reuters as saying.
He added that it was up to pharmaceutical companies to follow up the research with a commercial product, but said a single injection could easily be administered by local doctors every three to four months.
But Melissa Dear, a spokesperson for the Family Planning Association, told CNN that she thought it was unlikely that the final product would be marketed in the form of an injection. “It’s too awkward a method,” she said.
“This study has brought the reality of the male contraceptive pill one step closer, but we need to look at combining both hormones in a tablet form.”
She added that although the Family Planning Association welcomed the news, she anticipated that it would be five to 10 years before a male contraceptive was available commercially.
“You’d be bonkers if you believed a man who told you he was on the pill today,” she said.
SOURCE: BJU International
Revision date: June 14, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD