Researchers launch global male birth control test

December 07, 2018 08:18 AM

There's a global test happening right now to see if birth control for men will work.

Population Council and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has designed a gel for a man to apply to his back and shoulders every day, which will ideally prevent pregnancy. The test is funded by the National Institutes of Health.


Right now, there are only two forms of birth control for men. There are condoms and the more permanent option, a vasectomy. This gel has already passed the test on monkeys, and it's currently being tested in hundreds of couples across the world and here in the United States.

The couples are instructed to stop using female birth control and rely fully on the contraceptive gel. A single pump of the gel is applied to the back and shoulders and the man is told not to shower or swim for the next four hours. He is also told to wear a shirt so the hormones won't be exposed to women or children.

The gel is designed to stop a man's natural testosterone production. It uses a combination of progestin and testosterone. The treatment will stop the production of sperm in the testicles which ideally prevent pregnancy.

Dr. Michael Quartuccio, an endocrinologist at Rochester Regional Health, says alternative birth control options for men have been in the works for years.

"Some of the responsibility should be put on the man, not just on the woman," Dr. Quartuccio says. "It's good to have the option available. Just like any other kind of female birth control, it should be thoroughly studied before it's actually approved."

The doctor says it's also important to understand that this method has risks.

"One big concern about any kind of these birth controls would be this is obviously not going to reduce the risk of any kind of sexually transmitted disease or infection so that's something to note for the future," Dr. Quartuccio said. "It's not going to be a perfect method; it will not completely replace condoms because of the infection risk."

This current clinical trial is expected to last until 2021. After that, researchers will likely do another test on a larger sample group before getting FDA approval. This means the product probably won't hit the market for another decade.


Kaci Jones

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