Women may no longer be alone in taking oral pills to prevent pregnancy. A recent study has shown that a new oral drug has been proven safe and effective to use in men. The study was presented by a group of researchers from Seattle, Washington at an annual meeting of the Endocrine Society.
83 men were studied in the age range of 18 and 50. After taking the pill, the sex hormone, testosterone decreased. In addition, the hormones that are responsible for sperm production were also noticeably reduced. The drug in question is called dimethandrolone undecanote or DMAU. It’s taken once a day, a stark contrast to surgery or topical gels that are currently in use for contraceptives as well as new ones being developed.
Male birth control has been long coming. One of the key factors that worked against developing an effective male contraceptive was its effect on the liver and kidneys of the user. Too often experimental contraceptives ended up damaging those vital organs. Other possibilities for a contraceptive pill were found to be not long-lasting, which required the subject to take another pill later on in the day. This would also further affect the potential damage to his kidneys and liver. DMAU is different in that it is a long-chain fatty acid. This chain doesn’t harm the liver or kidneys.
During the study, the drug was split up into three different doses. Within those doses, 12 to 15 men were given the actual DMAU and the other 5 were given a placebo. The subjects took the pill for 28 days and were required to consume it with a meal since the researchers noticed that a meal was required to make the drug effective. Those who took the higher dosage all saw reported lower testosterone levels but didn’t report any of the symptoms that are usually associated with testosterone deficiency.
There were, however, a few side effects. Weight gain was reported amongst the subjects as well as a decrease in HDL. Despite this, both effects were considered mild, and there wasn’t any noticeable damage to the liver or kidneys. However, the study itself was too small. Researchers now aim to continue their research with a wider range of subjects, particularly that of couples. Currently, the team intends to extend their research for another three months. The lead researcher, Stephanie Page, is optimistic about the prospects DMAU can offer.