Male Birth Control: It's Coming, but Not Ready yet
There are probably some men who envy women because they have the pill — a method of birth control that is relatively reliable and doesn't interfere with sexual relations by changing the timing or feel of the act like condoms might do. The prayers of such men seem to have been answered as a birth control shot for men is being developed by researchers.
The study, which was performed on a group of men in stable relationships, tested the effect of a shot that combined the hormones testosterone and progestogen. This shot was found to lower the sperm count of men to a manageable level that could prevent unwanted pregnancies.
The mechanism behind this shot, which worked in 96% of the studied cases, is based on the fact that the male body stops producing natural testosterone when overwhelmed with the synthetic kind. What this means for the reproductive function is that the sperm count is lowered dramatically as a result of the lower production of testosterone.
The shot was administered to men every 8 weeks for a total period of 56 weeks, during which only 4 pregnancies were registered. These are quite encouraging results, as this rate of failure is very similar to that of the well-established female birth control pills.
Unfortunately, this particular shot in unlikely to make it to the market; the research had to be concluded hastily since an external reviewing committee found the medicine to be potentially unsafe for those involved in the study. The reason behind this sudden close is the concern that these men may have been at high risks for serious side effects including mood shifts and, more importantly, depression. In fact, 17% of the study's subjects did suffer from a kind of emotional disturbance; a smaller percentage did develop depression.
Doctors and researchers speculate that the excessive testosterone levels may be the cause for these symptoms, as similar cases have been observed in other instances of hormonal therapy where testosterone is administered.
Other, less serious side effects, which included acne, localized pain and increased libido were also reported, but aren’t seen as cause for concern — the latter may even have been a perk for some.
At the end of the study, more than 80% of men and the vast majority of their partners were still in favor of this treatment and willing to have it again, despite the risks. However, the therapy still needs to be perfected, which means this contraceptive measure won’t be made available to the general male population in the foreseeable future.