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A long-awaited male birth control gel closer to reality


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Scientists are developing a male contraceptive gel applied once daily to the shoulder area (Picture: Getty)

Researchers are getting closer to developing a long-lasting, effective birth control gel for men. 

The product, which promises to revolutionise male birth control for the ejaculatory-responsible population, is under development by scientists at the National Institutes of Health in the US. 

The hormonal gel is designed for men to rub onto their shoulders once daily. 

Its primary ingredient is segesterone acetate, a drug often known by the brand name nestorone which suppresses the production of testosterone.

The dosage of nestorone in the gel is designed to reduce the amount of testosterone needed for sperm production but to otherwise keep the latter hormone at healthy enough levels to avoid a negative effect on other processes, such as libido. 

Scientists have been working on the formula since at least 2005. 

The latest round of testing, which involved more than 300 couples as test subjects, shows signs that researchers may well have finally cracked it. 

The contraceptive gel currently undergoing clinical trials appears to carry less risk of depression and mood swings than the female pill (Picture: Getty)

A normal sperm count registers somewhere in the range of 15 to 200 million sperm per millilitre of semen. 

In the latest trials, 86% of test subjects achieve sperm counts of just 1,000,000 per millilitre – a level low enough to prevent pregnancy. 

These levels were generally achieved within just 15 weeks of use, though some men achieved the desired results within just four to eight weeks. 

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Boston, Diana Blithe, branch chief of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said: ‘We’ve been just really excited by the results. 

‘The combination seems to provide better, faster suppression than we expected. 

‘I would say our expectation was that it would be similar to hormonal birth control pills. And I can just say that it’s much, much better than that.’

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On average, a woman using oral contraception is susceptible to getting pregnant after missing just a day or two of the pill. 

By contrast, men using the contraceptive gel currently under trial need about 8 to 10 weeks for their sperm levels to recover to the kind of levels needed for contraception. 

There also appears to be a significantly reduced risk of mood swings and depression.

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Source:: Metro

      

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