Male contraceptive pill inches closer

Maricruz Casares
Marcha 19, 2018

The drug blocks sperm production through a combination of an androgen - a male hormone such as testosterone - and a progestin.

The study with the new pill was tested on 83 men. DMAU must be taken with food to be effective, Dr Page noted. She explained that testosterone preparations till date have not shown success as male contraceptives because they can lead to liver inflammation.

"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".

The next step is to look at whether sperm count is affected in men who take the pill for at least three months.

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Dr Page said longer term studies are now underway to confirm that when taken every day, DMAU blocks sperm production. Symptoms which have persisted in previous attempts to create a male pill, such as liver damage or low sex drive, were largely absent after a month-long trial. The study was conducted at the University of Washington Medical Center and at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, CA with assistance from Christina Wang, MD, professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles and Arthi Thirumalai, MD, Assistant professor of medicine at the University of Washington. Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic effects of 28 days of oral dimethandrolone undecanoate in healthy men: a prototype male pill. Each dose group included five men who were randomly assigned to receive an inactive placebo and another 12 to 15 men who were given the new pill. Researchers analyzed the men's hormones and cholesterol with blood tests at the start and end of the study. This had been done once at baseline as well.

At the highest dose of DMAU, the participants showed "marked suppression" of testosterone levels and two hormones needed to produce sperm.

"The things we're going to be looking for in our further studies are changes in sexual desire or sexual activity, changes in mood, and changes in weight or other markers of metabolic health that would be important for people's long-term health", said Page. Only a few complained about minor side effects, suggesting the experimental drug is safe for everyday use.

"These promising results are unprecedented in the development of a prototype male pill", Page said. The results were compared to longer-term studies and appeared consistent with effective male contraception.

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