While female have some options to choose from when it comes to birth control, men have limited resources to go for. However, a new study seems to have found a hormonal solution to help men instigate birth control. The study suggests that injecting sexually active men with two different hormones (administered after every eight weeks) was able to reduce the production of sperm to a level that can act as birth control.
Though the results from the new study are considered promising, it has to come to a halt because of some safety concerns. According to an independent safety board the side effects produced by this hormonal method of birth control outweighed the benefits. The side effects included depression as well as other mood disorders.
The technical team of the current study is focusing on identifying an effective, safe, reversible, affordable, and acceptable method of hormonal contraceptives for men. A total of 320 healthy men were recruited by researchers, being led by Dr. Hermann Behre from Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg (Germany). All of the participants were from different countries and aged 18 to 45. All of the men had been in monogamous relationships with women for at least a year. The women they were with were aged 18-38. None of the couples wanted to get pregnant for the next two years.
The study observed that men who were given high doses of testosterone helped to suppress the production of sperm in a few weeks. Giving men another hormone, progestin, further reduced the levels of sperm production. The low levels of production were also sustained by progestin and that is why men had to be injected less frequently.
A total of 86% from the participating 320 men saw their sperm counts being significantly reduced after twenty-four weeks. Their sperm counts were recorded to be less than 1 million/ml of semen. The National Infertility Association states that normal sperm counts fall in the range of 40-300 million/ml.
The current research was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Over the 56 weeks of follow up, among 266 participating couples, only 4 pregnancies occurred. The failure rate was observed to be 7.5%. In contrast, condoms for men have a 12% failure rate. A 9% failure rate is observed in contraceptive methods used by females such as patches, pills and rings. However, a 1% failure rate is shown by sterilization surgeries for both sexes as well as for intrauterine devices and female implants.
Coming to the side effects, during the study approximately 1,500 negative events were reported. A total of 39% of these had no relation with the administration of the hormonal injections. The side effects that were linked to the injections include 46% of the male participants reporting acne, near to 23% reporting pain in the injection site, and 38% of the participants experiencing increased libidos. Numerous men also reported mood disorders.
More research in required in order to see the practicality of such birth control, as it doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted disease, and what effect it has on men that don’t have a healthy sperm count. In men, sterilization and condoms are recommended by the World Health Organization as the only viable sources of birth control.