Contraception is an invaluable part of human relationships as it allows us to be proactive when planning our future. Choosing when to have children can make it easier to plan around them, both financially and emotionally, allowing us to be ready when we finally become parents.
The condom can be dated back to around 3000 B.C. and was made from materials like fish bladders, linen sheaths, and even animal intestines. We have come a long way since then, as proven by the advent of the oral contraceptive pill, which women can take on a daily basis to prevent pregnancy.
Now, medical innovation in the area of contraception has reached a new level – one that is now focused on male contraception. A team of researchers from the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has announced they will begin trials for a new form of male birth control.
A one-sided affair
The female birth control pill has many benefits for its users. It is convenient, may lead to light periods or help regulate them, and even allows women to skip periods altogether. However, it also comes with a few caveats as it may cause emotional instability, requires strict adherence to be effective, and also has a bevy of negative side effects from increased blood clotting to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
There is no better time to shift the responsibility of oral contraceptive off of women by offering men a similarly convenient way to prevent pregnancy.
Currently, there are only two forms of male contraception available: the condom and vasectomies. The desire for new male contraceptives has been long sought after, but trials have not met expectations due to unwanted side effects.
This newly developed male birth control aims to rectify this, as the researchers claim they have found a better solution. Coming in the form of a dual chemical gel, this form of male birth control should be applied to the arms and shoulder every day to be effective. Best of all, using it is believed to not cause mood swings or other side effects.
A gel-based form of contraception
This gel will include a form of progestin called Nesterone and a synthetic form of testosterone. Progestin prevents the testicles from producing testosterone, a key hormone required for males to produce sperm cells. The synthetic form of testosterone is there to balance out the body’s natural testosterone levels, but in a manner that does not result in sperm production.
When applied to the upper arms and shoulders, the active ingredients slowly make their way into the bloodstream. The researchers state that this is a superior way for drug delivery as compared to the contraceptive pill, as it is not cleared by the body quickly. The gel is not applied to the genitals as maximum skin coverage is required.
The clinical trial will begin in April 2018 and involve over 400 couples in the U.S., Italy, Chile, Kenya, the UK, and Sweden. For the first four months of the study, females will be asked to keep using female modes of contraception until male sperm levels have reached a level of one million sperm per milliliter of semen. They will then be asked to rely just on the gel for one year.