A new male birth control pill, known by the sexy name of 11-beta-methyl-19-nortestosterone dodecylcarbonate, has passed a test to determine if it can be tolerated by healthy men without causing the severe side effects that have been associated with previous attempts at male contraception.
In the 28-day trial conducted by LA BioMed in conjunction with the University of Washington last year, 30 men were given the pill, with another 10 men given a placebo. Nobody dropped out of the trial, and the subjects only complained of mild side effects like acne, headaches, and fatigue.
How Does the Male Contraceptive Pill Work?
The study’s co-senior investigator, Dr. Cristina Wang, Associate Director, Clinical and Translational Science Institute at LA BioMed, explains that the pill is a modified testosterone that is a combination of progesterone and the male hormone androgen. Over the course of 2-3 months, the pill suppresses sperm count to the point where birth control is effective.
When asked how men will know for certain when their sperm production is low enough to safely have sex without risking pregnancy, Wang said that they will have to see a doctor for a sperm analysis.
“At the present, you need to take a sample to the lab,” Wang told Parentology. “But there are dipstick methods and other devices that can possibly allow detection at home.”
Don’t get too excited yet, guys. It could be a while before you can take a trip to your pharmacy to pick up these pills. Further tests are being conducted, including studies using rats and monkeys, to determine if men are at risk for increased blood pressure if they take the pill for longer than three months.
In fact, Dr. Wang says that it might be a decade before the drug is available to consumers. “Safe, reversible hormonal male contraception,” she said in a statement, “should be available in about 10 years.”
“There is a lot of work to do to make that happen,” Dr. Stephanie Page, Head of the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition at the University of Washington tells Parentology. Dr. Page presented the study’s results at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society earlier this year.
“Progress could be accelerated with an infusion of resources from the public or private sectors,” she continues. “One way to encourage such an investment is if there is a sense that the public is interested in reversible male contraceptives. We think they are!”
Male Contraceptive Pill — Sources
Dr. Cristina Wang, Associate Director, Clinical and Translational Science Institute at LA BioMed
EDITOR’S NOTE: The original version of this story first ran in April 2019.