SA: A Promising Male Birth Control Trial Is Finally Happening, But Some Women Are Furious.
A large clinical trial launched this week will test a new, gel-based form of male birth control, Gizmodo reported Friday.
If it proves safe and effective, the gel could finally expand the very short list of contraceptive options that can be utilised by men.
“Many women cannot use hormonal contraception and male contraceptive methods are limited to vasectomy and condoms,” study investigator Diana Blithe, said in a statement from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is funding the trial.
“A safe, highly effective and reversible method of male contraception would fill an important public health need.”
The gel, applied to the back and shoulders once daily, contains a combination of a progestin compound and testosterone that is absorbed through the skin.
The progestin reduces sperm production to “low or nonexistent levels,” the NIH statement said, while the testosterone will work to maintain normal sex drive and other functions that require the hormone. The researchers plan to enroll 420 couples in the trial, the statement added.
Christina Wang, another investigator involved in the study, told Gizmodo that she and her colleagues have been working on the gel for nearly a decade and testing it in small human studies since 2009, refining its balance of hormones for both safety and effectiveness.
“We’ve had over 200 men exposed to the medication, and we’ve never had any serious adverse events,” she told Gizmodo. “But we will be monitoring everything very closely.”
On social media, the news prompted strong reactions among women.
Though the gel still remains to be studied in large groups of men, many women expressed frustration, saying that a gel applied to the skin seems far more convenient than some of the birth control options currently available to women. more