In as little as ten years, a new, effective form of birth control pills for men could be available after the experimental oral drug known as 11-beta-MNTDC passed its first round of safety tests.
“Our results suggest that this pill, which combines two hormonal activities in one, will decrease sperm production while preserving libido,” Dr. Christina Wang from L.A. Biomen said in a report. “Safe, reversible hormonal male contraception should be available in about 10 years.”
The phase 1 clinical trial recruited 40 healthy men, 14 of whom received 200 mg of the birth control drug, 16 receiving 400 mg and the remaining receiving a placebo. The study participants took the pills daily with food 28 days in a row. Men taking the drug experienced a drop in testosterone levels without experiencing any severe side effects.
However, some men reported having some mild side effects from taking the pill, such as fatigue, acne, or headaches. Those are similar to side effects commonly reported by women who take the contraceptive pill. At least five men reported having their sex drive decrease, with at least two men reporting having trouble with erectile dysfunction.
According to the report, no study participant stopped taking the drug because of the effects.
It was also discovered that the drug’s effects were reversible after the men stopped taking the pill.
“11-beta-MNTDC mimics testosterone through the rest of the body but is not concentrated enough in the testes to support sperm production,” University of Washington School of Medicine professor Stephanie Page 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.”
In order to ensure the drug is safe and functions properly in blocking sperm production, researchers will need to run more studies.
According to a 2005 survey published in the journal Human Reproduction, 55 percent of men in stable relationships want to try a new, hormonal form of male contraceptives if the effects were reversible.