Male birth control gel nearly
ready for clinical trials
Women rejoice! Birth control is coming for the dudes.
BETHESDA, MARYLAND — Scientists from the National Institutes of Health are set to trial an experimental male contraceptive that if successful, would fill an important public health need and pave the way for reproductive equality.
According to a press release from the National Institutes of Health, NES/T is a contraceptive gel whose primary compound is the progestin hormone Nestorone, which blocks natural testosterone production in the testes. This decreases sperm production to low or nonexistent levels to prevent conception.
The gel also contains a concentration of testosterone to maintain blood levels of the hormone, in order to ensure a normal sex drive and other functions.
The clear gel is applied daily to the back and shoulders, and absorbed through the skin.
To test its efficacy, NIH researchers will study 420 couples for a year. The men will be tracked for up to 16 weeks to ensure sperm levels have declined, with women using an alternative form of birth control. Couples will then use the gel as the sole method of contraception for 52 weeks, to see if it does prevent pregnancy.
After the trials, male participants will be observed for several more weeks to check for any after effects, and make sure sperm production returns to normal.
Results from the trial are expected in 2022. If successful, it will need to be evaluated in a larger trial before it can obtain FDA approval and be available commercially.
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