Health News Update: Male birth control pill shows ‘promising results’

(Source: WECT)
(Source: WECT)
Updated: Mar. 22, 2018 at 9:32 PM EDT
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NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - A male birth control pill taken for 28 days is safe and lowers testosterone to "castrate levels," according to a study presented this week at the Endocrine Society meeting in Chicago.

Eighty-three healthy men either took the drug dimethandrolone undecanoate (DMAU) or a placebo once a day for a month.

Researchers found the DMAU pill lowered blood levels of testosterone and other sex hormones important for sperm production.

Based on how the body produces sperm cells, researchers said lower testosterone levels should theoretically result in much lower sperm counts, which means a lower chance of pregnancy.

"These promising results support further development of [this pill] as a single agent oral male contraceptive pill," the researchers write.

"It's very preliminary right now. Basically, this is promising in that it does drop hormone levels, but we already treat men with low testosterone for the side effects that it may cause when they're older," said Dr. Dana Point, a urologist based in Wilmington who was not involved in this study. "So it would be interesting to see the long-term side effects of this medication."

Eight men who took the pill reported decreased sex drive, which is a possibly unwanted side effect.

This drug is far from FDA certification, which requires studies of 300-3,000 volunteers for one to four years to test the effectiveness and side effects.

"There's a lot of men who would like an alternative to condoms or other options, and unfortunately right now there aren't many temporary options for men right now," said Point.

Birth control options for women:

  • Hormonal pills
  • Tubal ligation – sterilization
  • Female condom
  • Patch
  • Ring
  • Bar implant
  • IUD

Birth control options for men:

  • Condoms – needed for STD protection, can be used with other methods
  • Vasectomy – sterilization
  • Withdrawal

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