Male birth control has been a coveted development for years. Now it looks like it finally may be happening.
A study presented over the weekend at the annual Endocrine Society meeting in Chicago, detailed a male hormone pill known as dimethandrolone undecanoate or DMAU. The pill works by reducing testosterone and other hormone levels responsible for sperm production—and claims to do so sans side effects, says Stephanie Page, an endocrinologist at the University of Washington School of Medicine (also the lead author of the study).
“The only options currently available for men are vasectomy, condoms and coitus interruptus,” Page said. “Forty percent of pregnancies worldwide are unplanned, so there’s clearly an unmet need for novel contraceptives, and men have very few options.”
Here’s the details on the study: It was on 83 men between 18 to 50. Each guy was randomly put in a control group or one of three treatment groups. Treatment groups differed by the dosage of the drug they got: 100, 200 or 400 milligrams.
Long story short, testosterone levels decreased in all three doses when it was taken for 28 days. They got to “castrate levels,” meaning the range of testosterone in the blood after chemical or surgical castration—defined as 50 nanograms per deciliter. Normally, men have about 350 to 1,100 nanograms per deciliter.
There were some drawbacks; nine participants had decreased libido.
The group given 400 milligrams also saw a significant reduction in LH and FSH, two hormones that help regulate testosterone and sperm production by the testes.
The drug’s androgen-like properties can thwart prevent side effects typically associated with low testosterone levels, Page said.
“If you simply took the men’s testosterone down to these low levels, they would absolutely have side effects. They would have hot flashes just like women do when they go through menopause, and they would have marked changes in sexual desire and function,” she said.
“The very important point here is that despite having those low levels of testosterone, the steroid that is given in this prototyped male pill provides the androgen activity in the man in all the other parts of their body,” Page added.