News / Health

Hormonal Gel Contraceptive for Men Shows Promise

Jessica Berman
WASHINGTON - Researchers are developing a hormonal contraceptive for men that is completely reversible and has shown promise in an early test.

The contraceptive is made up of two gels. One contains a progestin - a synthetic version of the female hormone progesterone - and the other, the male reproductive hormone, testosterone.  The combination suppresses the production of sperm by lowering levels of male hormones.  

In a preliminary study, applying the hormonal contraceptive to the skin each day reduced sperm counts to below the levels normally needed for reproduction.

Leading the research was Christina Wang, a professor of medicine with the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at the University of California Medical Center.

Wang says the gels had few adverse side effects, the major one being an increase in acne in some of the men.

"And we don't know, but we think that maybe the testosterone dose that was given was slightly higher than what the men's own testosterone (level) was," Wang said.

In larger clinical trials, Wang says men will be given a smaller dose of testosterone.

Fifty-six healthy men completed the six-month preliminary trial of the contraceptive gels. About 90 percent of those who received the combination of hormones had a sperm concentration of less than one million sperm cells per milliliter, essentially rendering them infertile.  Among the men using the testosterone-only gel, only 23 percent experienced those same low sperm counts.

Regine Sitruk-Ware is a reproductive endocrinologist with the Population Council in New York, a non-profit group whose researchers developed Nestorone, the synthetic progestin used in the gel. In higher doses than those naturally produced in women, the progestin molecule acts on the pituitary gland in the brain to block the production of sperm. But used alone, Sitruk-Ware says Nestorone causes side effects, including a reduction in libido. That's why testosterone was included in the contraceptive mix.

Sitruk-Ware says it takes at least 30 days for the gel to block production of sperm, so the hormonal contraceptive is not something that works immediately like a pill.  And about a month after a man stops applying it, the contraceptive effects wear off.  

Sitruk-Ware says studies on four continents show a majority of men would support a hormonal form of birth control in addition to condoms and vasectomy, a surgical procedure for male sterilization.

"It's something that they can use themselves.  It doesn't need a health provider to insert an implant or to make an injection.  So the concept of a gel was seen very positively," Siturk-Ware said.

Before larger trials begin, the hormones will be reformulated into a single gel, making the contraceptive easier to apply.  Researchers say the regulatory approval process means it will be several years before a male contraceptive gel comes to market.

Results of the preliminary study of a combination Nestorone and testosterone male contraceptive were presented at a recent meeting of the Endocrine Society in Houston, Texas.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid