The quest for a trustworthy male contraceptive continues but despite some innovative ideas and some ground-breaking medical discoveries, have we really come any closer to finding something that really will work?
The latest in a long list of potential male contraceptives is the testosterone injection. The testosterone is administered via injection into the buttocks and needs to be injected on a monthly basis. When the body detects too much testosterone in the system then it stops the production of sperm. A two year trial was carried out in China and 1,000 men participated. It was reported that 95% of pregnancies were prevented but it this good enough? The female contraceptive pill is 99% effective at pregnancy prevention and that 4% risk is probably not worth taking – especially when it involves a monthly intramuscular injection.
It says it all really that one third of the participants dropped out before the trial had even been completed and this was seemingly down to the hassle of having to have an injection every month. Furthermore, some of the men were anxious over known potential side effects such as changes to mood, a decrease in sex drives and skin problems like acne. This injection might be more hassle than it’s worth especially considering its mere 95% prevention rate.
Other pills being developed and researched presently include a paralysing pill which temporarily paralyses certain muscles of the reproductive system in males and results in a dry ejaculation where no fluid is released. In addition, ultrasound blasts that could offer up to 6 months of sperm free testes and as discussed in a recent blog, scientists are still working on the gene, Katnal1, which could potentially help them to create the first ever non-hormonal male contraceptive.
Then there is the 10 year contraceptive which blocks the vas deferens with a coating of gel which breaks the membranes of sperm cells rendering them unable to fertilise an egg but just how safe and effective these contraceptives will prove to be when the time comes remains to be seen. The study in China has definitely not got us excited about the male contraceptive but we’ll keep this blog updated regularly in the event of a ground-breaking development.