Finally! A safe, effective male contraceptive could be on the way

Complications that have previously stymied the creation of male oral contraceptives look to be overcome.

Women will be happy to hear the first male contraceptive pill could be on the way – meaning their partners could share the ‘oh crap, did I remember to take my pill?’ joy.

The experimental pill – called dimethandrolone undecanoate (or DMAU for short) – has successfully completed human trials. This potential new form of birth control is required once-daily and combines a mix of a male hormone like testosterone and a progestin.

A safe and reliant form of oral contraception for males has been sought after for a long time, but scientists were faced with a number of problems that stymied its creation.

Firstly, available oral forms of testosterone can result in liver inflammation – and bypassing this has previously been an issue. Additionally, men pass testosterone from their bodies too quickly for a once-daily dosage, and would need a pill twice-daily to be effective – a bit more maintenance than wearing a condom!

Researchers have responded to this problem by including undecanoate in the DMAU formula. Without getting too science-y, undecanoate is a long-chain fatty acid that helps slow down the passing of the hormones, allowing DMAU to be a once-daily pill.

Researchers from Washington University spoke of DMAU’s successful trials at the annual Endocrine conference. The study’s senior investigator, Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington, M.D. and PhD, Stephanie Page, says: “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.”

The study saw 83 males take varying doses of DMAU for a month – either 100, 200 or 400mg. The results suggest that while the male pill can cause men to gain a little weight and have a mild decrease in the amount of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol stored, their hormone responses were ‘consistent with effective contraception,’ according to researchers.

It seems the new pill may be effective and safe: all men in the study passed safety tests – including safety markers of liver and kidney function.

Of the study results Page said: “These promising results are unprecedented in the development of a prototype male pill. Longer term studies are currently under way to confirm that DMAU taken every day blocks sperm production.”

Sounds good to us, fingers crossed we have a reliable form of male contraceptives in the next few years!

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