Promising results have been yielded in the search for a male oral contraceptive.
Researchers from the University of Washington and UCLA recently presented promising results of Phase I clinical trials for a drug aimed at being the counterpart of the female oral contraceptive pill.
Since the female contraceptive pill was conceived in 1960 (pun intended) the search for a ‘male pill’ or something of that nature has been the focus of many endocrinologists around the world.
The closest they came was in 2008, where a drug administered by injection showed an ability to reduce sperm production, however, the trail was halted since the drug also inflicted dire side effects on the test subjects, including a severe decrease in libido and neurosis.
The new drug, 11-beta-MNTDC appears delivers the good without the bad, as shown by the clinical trial which involved 30 men who took two concentrations of the pill for 28 days, while 10 others took a placebo.
How it works
The concept of the male contraceptive pill is to either block the production of, or hinder the function of sperm cells reversibly. After one stops taking the pill, normal sperm function and production should resume.
Like all medicines, the end goal should be achieved while minimizing the side effects. 11-beta-MNTDC, (11-beta-methyl-19-nortestosterone dodecylcarbonate for us nerds) differs from its forerunners in that only mild side effects were experienced by a few of the 40 men in the trail.
11-beta-MNTDC has a chemical structure similar to testosterone. It has a dual action, progestational (sperm-blocking) and androgenic (hormone-balancing). The latter characteristic of this drug is what makes it so promising in that it can replace testosterone without damaging other bodily functions of the male that uses it including libido, hair patterning, and lean muscle gain among others.
“Since testosterone production is shut down in the testes, the androgen action in the rest of the body maintains ‘maleness’ elsewhere, supporting things like male pattern hair, deep voice, sex drive and function, and lean body mass,” – Stephanie Page from the University of Washington.
Reception of this news has been mixed, to say the least, though this is normal as it is still early days and information is limited.
Those that welcome the pill do so since it allows partners to better share the responsibility for their fertility. Those that don’t want the pill cite fears of potential side effects, while SRH groups fear the pill will breed more complacency in the area of STI transmission.
Either way, 11-beta-MNTDC is a long way away from showing up in your local pharmacy. This being a Phase I trail, it was very limited, its goal being to see if it is safe to undergo further human trails and not to see if the pill is actually doing its job properly. Three more phases are needed before the drug is deemed safe can be marketed, a process that takes on average 12 to 15 years.
Even after that, however, it may be a while before the drug is cheap and readily available enough for your average Tatenda, without government intervention of some kind.Its a long process, but it is to guarantee a safe and effective drug by the end of it.
Hope is not lost however as the next phase of testing will begin soon, which will give us more answers as to how effective the drug is
Would you take the pill, or have your partner take it? Leave us a comment to let us know your what’s and why’s.