There is a male contraceptive pill in the works that is effective, safe, and does not affect sex drive, scientists have announced, in what is being described as “a major step forward.”
For the first time, the drug was reportedly successfully tested on 83 men for a month. Efforts to make pills for men similar to the once-a-day female contraceptive pills have not progressed because men metabolize the hormones too quickly, The Telegraph reports.
So far, male contraceptives have relied primarily on condoms for temporary fixes. Other future contraceptive projects are long-acting injections or topical gels, both of which are being developed. This new drug, called dimethandrolone undecanoate, or DMAU, has a long-chain fatty acid that slows down how fast men clear out the hormone, allowing one dose to be taken per day.
Scientists at the University of Washington Medical Center tested three doses of DMAU, in quantities of 100, 200 and 400mg, on 100 healthy men between 18 to 50 years old. Eighty-three completed the study. On the first and last days, the men underwent blood sampling for hormone and cholesterol testing.
At the highest dose of DMAU, the participants showed “marked suppression” of testosterone levels and two hormones needed to produce sperm. But the pill onlu worked if taken with food.
Stephanie Page, senior author on the study, said,
Despite having low levels of circulating testosterone, very few subjects reported symptoms consistent with testosterone deficiency or excess. These promising results are unprecedented in the development of a prototype male pill.
On the downside, all of the men taking DMAU experienced some weight gain, and a decrease in “good” cholesterol. But they all passed safety tests, including markers of normal liver and kidney function. Page said, “DMAU is a major step forward in the development of a once-daily ‘male pill.’”
“Many men say they would prefer a daily pill as a reversible contraceptive, rather than long-acting injections or topical gels, which are also in development,” she added.