Scientists have announced a major breakthrough in the development of the world’s first male contraceptive pill, following successful initial trials of the drug.
Researchers from the University of Washington Medical Centre are reporting that the new drug is effective, safe to use and, most significantly, does not harm the male sex drive.
This major step forward follows the completion of testing on 83 male test subjects, who were given the once-daily pill over the course of a month in order to produce the findings.
Previous tests involving a male contraceptive pill had stalled because of the fact that male bodies are designed to metabolise and clear out the hormones that work so effectively in female contraceptive pills.
However, the new drug, called dimethandrolone undecanoate ( DMAU), looks set to change that. It’s also due to the fact it includes a long-chain fatty acid which slows down the clearance, allowing just one dose to be taken each day.
The pill combines activity of an androgen – a male hormone – and a progestin. Three doses of DMAU – 100, 200 and 400mg – were tested on 100 healthy men between 18 to 50 years old, with 83 completing the study.
As part of the test, subjects were asked to give blood samples for hormone and cholesterol testing on the first and last days of the study.
The findings revealed that subjects on the highest dosage showed “marked suppression” of levels of their testosterone and two hormones required for sperm production.
Interestingly, the results also showed that the pill only worked only if taken with food, which could put a whole new spin on any post-pub takeaway.
“Despite having low levels of circulating testosterone, very few subjects reported symptoms consistent with testosterone deficiency or excess,” Professor Stephanie Page, the senior investigator on the study, said.
“These promising results are unprecedented in the development of a prototype male pill,” All groups taking DMAU experienced some weight gain, as well decreases in HDL (“good”) cholesterol.”
All those involved in the study passed their safety tests, including markers of liver and kidney function, which bodes well for the development of the drug.