Male contraceptive injections: what are they all about? The newest form of birth control for men isn’t about condoms or simple abstinence. It stops a man from producing sperm.
How? With cunning science. American researchers have developed a hormone-based injection for men that acts as a contraceptive by jabbing them with a mixture of progesterone and a type of testosterone to suppress their sperm production.
Men produce sperm constantly, and so large amounts of hormones are needed to lower a man’s sperm count from about 15 million per milliliter to under one million sperm/ml, in order to make him unlikely to cause a pregnancy.
Tricky? Yes. But impossible? No.
The study that evaluated the drug’s effectiveness and was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, stated that only 4 of the 270 men involved made their partners pregnant when using the hormone injection as their only form of contraception, and furthermore, 75% of the men who took part in the trial would be willing to use this form of contraception again.
Not too shabby. However, even with a 96% success rate, this male contraceptive drug isn’t perfect. It does have side effects, including depression, acne and mood swings.
(Sound familiar, ladies?)
Also notable is the fact that eight of the men who participated haven’t yet fully recovered their normal sperm count even a year after the study ended, when they stopped taking the injection. Maybe a bit scary.
What’s the next step? Scientists are currently looking at using different levels of the same hormones, to perfect the contraceptive. In addition, attempts are being made to develop a friendlier way of administering it all, like gels.
It’s been a long journey- about 20 years- in the making of this kind of male contraceptive. To find out more about what lies beyond vasectomies and condoms, check out malecontraceptives.org.