Male Contraceptive Pill - What Are We Waiting For?

Why male contraceptive pill is still awaited and why is it tough to create a male contraceptive pill. Still, we need to wait for almost another 10 years to get reversible hormone male contraception and the surety that male contraceptive pill is safe to use

Male Contraceptive Pill - What Are We Waiting For?

Why male contraceptive pill is still awaited and why is it tough to create a male contraceptive pill. Still, we need to wait for almost another 10 years to get reversible hormone male contraception and the surety that male contraceptive pill is safe to use

Male contraceptive pill or male birth control is a method of preventing pregnancy that only involve the male physiology. In frequent intervals we hear a news about a breakthrough in developing a male contraceptive pill. Till date, we don’t have any product ready to use and researchers are still working to create a pill for men. The most common male contraception available are condoms, withdrawal or pulling out, out course and vasectomy. Few other forms are under the process of research includes RISUG/Vasal Gel. It is reported that it has completed a short phase of trials in humans.

Till now, following male conception are used:

  • Vasectomy – It is a surgical process for men’s permanent birth control. In this process, the vasa deferentia of a man are detached and then sealed in a way to prevent sperm from entering into the seminal stream. This process is performed by a physician. Sometimes, it results to failure only because of the presence of sperm retained beyond the blocked vasa deferentia. Vasectomy is positively effective only after three months from the surgery.
  • Withdrawal – This method has yearly failure rate of 4 percent that too, if used correctly at every act of intercourse. Also, has a failure rate of 22 percent per year for typical use.
  • Condoms – A condom is a barrier device used during sexual intercourse to minimize the probability of pregnancy and decrease the risk of sexually transmitted infections like AIDS. It is used before intercourse which blocks ejaculated semen from entering the body of a partner. The pregnancy rate among condom users ranges from 10 percent to 18 percent per year.

Researches on Male Contraceptive Pill

The main attention is being given to develop few more male contraceptive, no matter, it is medication, surgery of any other.

  • Gossypol – It is an extract of cotton. It is considered to be used as a male contraceptive pill. In a research, it was observed that it decreased sperm production, though it resulted permanent in 20 percent cases.
  • Immunocontraception, which targets antigens, is found to be very effective in male primates.
  • BRDT, a non-hormonal male contraceptive drug is under development It is seen effectively blocking the production of sperm by the testes and lacking the adverse effect of prior researched hormonal contraceptives for men.
  • Nifedipine, a calcium channel blocker, may cause reversible infertility by altering the lipid metabolism of sperm so that they are not able to fertilize an egg.
  • Adjudin is a non-toxic analog of lonidamine. This is a drug that interrupts the junctions between sertoli cells in the testes and forming spermatids. Here, the sperm are released prematurely and never become functional gametes.
  • Trestolone is an anabolic steroid that has been observed reducing sperm count.
  • Ouabain is a plant extract has been shown to reduce sperm motility sufficiently for effective contraception.
  • RISUG involves injecting a polymer gel, styrene maleic anhydride in dimethyl sulfoxide into the vas deferens. The polymer has a positive charge, and when negatively charged sperm pass through the vas deferens, the charge differential severely damages the sperm. Vasal gel is a brand name of polymer gel injection, is tested on rabbits which showed positive result.
  • Epididymis, is a long coiled tube behind the testicles that permits the sperm to mature naturally which is required for normal fertility. The successful result is still awaited.
  • Hormonal injections i.e. progestogen jabs to cut off sperm production were found resulting 96 percent effective in clinical trials. Research was hindered due to side effects, including depression, mood disorders, libido changes and acne. Yes, it is familiar to women who have used the contraceptive pill.
  • Contraceptive chip, a computerized version of the levonorgestrel implant, this device could last 16 years and let women turn off the hormone release using a wireless remote control.

Type of research on Male contraceptive pill

Research of male contraceptive pill is mainly based on:

  • Hormonal contraception – In this method, a synthetic hormones are used to temporarily stop the sperm development.
  • Non-hormonal contraception – Here, several other techniques are used to prevent healthy sperm entering in a women’s vagina.

New male contraceptive pill is safe or not

The male contraceptive pill has passed tests successfully on account of safety when a male use it in regular basis. Researchers found that these drugs does not affect libibo. The pill named 11-beta-methyl-19- nortestosterone dedocylcarbonate is a modified testosterone that has the combined actions of a male hormone and progesterone. A scientist claims that this pill combines two hormonal actions in one, hence, it will definitely decrease sperm production while saving libibo. Though, it has some side effects like mild fatigue, acne or headache, decrease in sex drive etc.

Hopes increased for male contraceptive pill which showed daily intake of capsule resulting efficiently with almost no side effects. The aim of the pill is to suppress the levels of hormones that drive the production of sperm and testosterone in the testes. In a research, men who took capsule daily, found their sperm counts had been markedly reduced. Researchers are also aiming to create choices in male contraceptive pill as we have for women.

Drug which is under research, contains a form of progesterone that interrupts the production of hormones called LH and FSH that are required to make sperm. It also contains testosterone compound which balances a drop in male hormone caused by progestin.

Male Contraceptive Pill - What are we waiting for?

Researchers say that no such drug is effective in reducing unplanned pregnancies, but can rectify the burden of contraception on women. Several research has demonstrated the safety of new formulations of male contraception, which includes oral formulations and topical gel. Pill that passed the human safety test was dimethandrolone undecanoate and 11-beta-MNTDC. These both are still young in their developmental cycles. Topical gel i.e. NES/T, is a combination of hormones progestin and testosterone. It is still under trial stage as couples trials are currently undergoing to tests its efficacy in the long run.

All these methods blocks the signal from the brain, which means, the testicle stops producing testosterone and without that high amount of testosterone in the testicle, the sperm do not get matured.

It is a fact that there are a number of options available for women contraception, we still have a problem. Unplanned pregnancy has an enormous health, emotional, and economic burden for the couple and the nation. There’s clearly a need of authentic and assured method. Before any drug enters the market, they would first have to undergo numerous rigorous testing.

Contraceptives have a longer timeline than some other drugs because they have to work continually. That means these drugs need to be used for a year or two before they can be proven effective.

The reasons for this delay also depends on who you listen to: the difficulties of drug development; the argument that it is harder to stop millions of sperm than one egg; lack of financial investment; women not trusting men to take a pill; a lack of male enthusiasm for doing so.

Developing a method that men accept easily has brought decades of frustration. However, researchers are as confident as they’re close to overcoming all the scientific barriers. But, unfortunately, drug makers’ commitment to contraceptives has always been tentative, mainly when it comes to products for men and today, the whole contraceptive industry is struggling.

Well, poorer countries having fast-growing populations found gossypol appealing because it could be extracted cheaply from cotton. In a trial with 9,000 men taking gossypol pills, regular doses successfully reduced the men’s sperm count enough to satisfy the researchers, but side-effects were effective, making a cause for concern. Problem that almost 66 men faced was low potassium in their blood. Most importantly, sperm levels in many men didn’t return to normal when they stopped taking the drug.

Several participants were also using other contraception, monitored their sperm count. For almost nine-tenths of the men on the hormonal contraceptive, sperm counts fell below the million, and once the trial was over they all recovered normal fertility after around four months. But, unfortunately, not everything was perfect. More men taking hormones suffered problems like acne, sweating, and effects on weight, mood and sex drive. Some of these were more serious and even life-threatening, including one attempted suicide.

The survey was also conducted on 140 women, roughly half of whom would let their partners use a male pill. But, more than half were concerned that their men would forget to take the pill regularly. Certainly, women have the experience of remembering to take the pill. Contraception is for healthy, younger couples. One has to make 100 percent sure, that it’s not going to harm the male who is using it. Male contraceptive pill is safe or not is still not confirmed.

Why is it becoming tough to create a male contraceptive pill?

Men produce millions of sperm during the course of one day, all of which have to be stopped to achieve effective contraception. This makes male contraception more difficult than in female contraception, as women only produce one fertile egg at a time.

It could be achieved by blocking the action of the hormone testosterone so that the testicles stops producing any sperm. Studies on the progesterone found that a pill for men could indeed work but every individual react differently to the pill. During trials, it was observed that some men still produced a reduced number of sperm, which means that they could still make a women pregnant.


Still, we need to wait for almost another 10 years to get reversible hormone male contraception and the surety that male contraceptive pill is safe to use. The researchers say it could be a decade before we have a male pill available in the market, but they believe there is strong demand from couples. Men have really limited options when it comes to reversible contraception. In a survey, when men were asked about hormonal compounds, about 50% were willing to try new method. And when asked from their partners, the percentage was much higher. Most importantly, men are interested in contraception. Choices for contraception should be available to men too. Some women, due to some health issues, can’t take the pill and men wishes to share the contraception burden.

Allie Leon, Chief Fun Officer

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