Would you try this male birth control gel?
The elusive contraceptive for men is finally in trial
LIFESTYLE sexual health
A male form of birth control has been in the works for over a decade now, but 2018 has seen major advancements in the field, first in pill form, and now as a gel.
Researchers have officially begun the first wide-scale clinical trial of a male contraceptive topical gel, Gizmodo reports. It will enroll 420 healthy, young couples from nine different study sites in seven countries around the world, including Chile, England, Sweden, and the US.
The gel itself is a combination of the brand name drug Nestorone, which is a progestin hormone, and testosterone. It must be applied daily to the arms and shoulders, but male volunteers in the trial will continue to use other contraceptives for the first 20 weeks. Then, once their sperm counts diminish to a point of identifiable infertility, the men and their female partners will be asked to cut out the other contraceptives and rely only on the gel for the following year. After one year, they’ll stop using the gel and continue to be monitored for another six months to ensure that their sperm count rises again.
The development of birth control for men has been repeatedly stunted by unwanted effects like weight gain, fatigue, acne, and loss of sex-drive, otherwise known as side effects that have been present in female birth control for years and continue to be a non-issue.
No one thinks it’s weird that male hormonal birth control hasn’t ever been approved because it has been deemed unsafe due to its side effects of acne, depression, fatigue, low libido etc but here us women are popping it like its candy and enduring the same side effects..?— Illie Zeneli (@illie_zeneli) November 28, 2018
Twitter users have been weighing in on the development, complaining that "Women are presented with the option of taking pills everyday, inserting a circle into their vagina, or implanting a bar into their arm for birth-control," and yet male birth control "is a gel they rub on their back..."
Regardless of the fairness of the contraceptive, scientists have now found the proper balance of progestin and testosterone to combat many of the negative effects in men, which hopefully means they'll be less averse to using it.
Aside from tracking the individual men’s sperm counts and physical health, the trial will also be keeping tabs on the couple's satisfaction with the gel, something that isn't done in studies of female contraceptives.
If the trial works as hoped and is wrapped up by the expected date in 2022, it will still be a while before this contraceptive is available in pharmacies. Because it’s only a phase 2b clinical trial, it will reportedly require many more studies and thousands of more men to try it before regulatory agencies give it the stamp of approval. It is, however, expected to be affordable since the research is sponsored by the US federal government.
While we eagerly await the arrival of this male contraceptive gel which involves minimal side effects and a daily massage, many wonder whether men's access to birth control will be similarly challenged by those who are against female contraceptives.