Scientists have taken a major step towards releasing a safe birth control pill for men, researchers said. Guys who popped a new hormone-suppressing capsule during a monthlong study saw their sperm count “markedly” plunge – with no serious side effects, scientists said at an annual Endocrine Society meeting.
The drug, dubbed 11-beta-MNTDC, blocks sperm-producing hormones and is made with a testosterone-like compound to keep “maleness” intact, researchers said. “Since testosterone production is shut down in the testes, the androgen action in the rest of the body maintains “maleness” elsewhere, supporting things like male pattern hair, deep voice, sex drive and function, and lean body mass,” said Stephanie Page, a professor of medicine, who worked on the trial.
During the study, 40 healthy men, ages 18 to 50, were given either the drug or a placebo over a 28-day period. None of them dropped out of the experiment or had less sex during the trial but some felt mild side effects, researchers said. Four to six of them reported headaches, fatigue or acne and five felt a mildly decreased libido.
Scientists have been testing possible male contraceptives – including pills, injections and gels – to find an alternative to condoms and vasectomies for years. A male birth control pill will likely hit the market in roughly a decade, the researchers said.