Scientists have developed another male contraceptive, but it requires injection of a gel into your abdomen.
No male contraceptive has really taken off due to side effects, but researchers believe they’ve finally created one that’s long-lasting, not permanent.
A recent report showed that an increasing number of men are abandoning condoms and relying on women using contraception.
Contraline, a Virginia-based biotech company, is developing ADAM – the world’s first injectable male contraceptive gel that it describes as “like the IUD, for men”.
Rather than hormones to stop sperm production, the contraceptive involves a gel that is injected into the tubes that carry sperm through a small incision in the abdomen.
The gel, which is not yet publicly available, will then prevent sperm from reaching the testicles.
After about two years, the gel dissolves and men can opt for another procedure.
The contraceptive involves a gel injected into the man’s sperm-carrying tubes, which then stops the sperm from getting to the testicles
Recovery from the procedure is similar to that of a vasectomy.
Twenty-four hours of rest are required, and men should avoid sex, sports, and heavy lifting for a week, or risk pain or bleeding inside the scrotum.
It is currently being tested in a clinical trial at Epworth Freemasons Hospital in East Melbourne, Australia.
Four men have received the contraceptive and are being monitored for side effects.
If the trial is successful, a larger trial will take place in the United States next year, with the procedure becoming available by 2025 or 2026.
Prof Nathan Lawrentschuk, an Epworth Freemasons urologist and lead researcher on the study, said the contraceptive could be a game-changer.
He said: “The three-year study will examine whether the hydrogel is successful as a non-permanent, long-lasting male contraceptive.
“If successful, it could be a game-changer in ensuring birth control is a shared responsibility between couples.”
In March, experts claimed to have developed a tablet that is 99% effective in blocking pregnancies, putting it on par with the current female version.
Tests on mice showed that the non-hormonal drug, labeled YCT529, did not trigger any visible side effects.
And the rodents were able to father pups again four to six weeks after they stopped taking the contraceptive, according to the team.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota have planned human trials of the drug – which inhibits a protein to stop sperm formation – later this year.
Other candidates exist, including those that have been tested on men in Britain in recent years.
But Professor Gunda Georg, who led the study, said YCT529 is “the most advanced of all male contraceptive agents”.
Scientists have been trying since the 1950s to develop an effective male oral contraceptive, including pills, gels and injections.
None have been approved, and even the most promising options are still years away from being widely available.
A major obstacle is that the female contraceptive works by preventing ovulation, which occurs once a month.
Any male contraceptive would have to interrupt the production of millions of sperm produced by men every day.
Most drugs in clinical trials target testosterone, preventing the male sex hormone from producing healthy sperm.
Doctors say, however, that the blocking action of testosterone can trigger weight gain, depression, and increased cholesterol.
For comparison, the female combined birth control pill – which contains synthetic versions of the female hormones estrogen and progesterin – has been linked to similar mental health side effects.
WHAT METHODS OF CONTRACEPTION ARE CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FOR MEN?
There have been few changes in male contraception compared to the range of options available to women.
Although there is ongoing research on a male birth control pill, there are none available yet.
Currently, the 2 contraceptive methods available for men are:
- Condoms – a barrier form of birth control that prevents sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg
- Vasectomy – a minor, usually permanent, surgery that prevents sperm from reaching ejaculated semen from the penis
The withdrawal method of removing your penis from your partner’s vagina before ejaculating is not a method of birth control.
Indeed, sperm can be released before ejaculation and cause pregnancy.