A male birth control injection? It's possible but has side effects

A recently released birth control study focussing on a male contraceptive injection has shown significant potential promise (1) - paving the way for a future where men could take control of their own fertility options as routinely and regularly as women do.

This scenario is generally thought to be one that won't become a reality for some time however. One of the main reasons for this is because the men involved in the study experienced birth control side effects, which included acne, pain, mood disorders and depression.

What did the study involve and what were the results?

This research, published by the Endocrine Society and recently featured in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, proved that using the male contraceptive injection slowed down the production of male sperm, effectively making the volunteers who participated infertile.

The research group consisted of 320 male volunteers who were in relationships with women. Researchers injected the volunteers with a two-hormone cocktail, which was designed to suppress sperm formation, every two months for 13 months. The effectiveness rate of this contraceptive jab was 96%.

The study lasted three years in total before it was halted in 2011, due to the side effects being experienced. A safety review panel prevented the trial from recruiting new test subjects after this time.

The contraceptive effects of the injection were not found to be permanent, with 95% of men who received the injections regaining the study's measure of a fertile sperm count within a year.

Majority said 'would use if available'

Seventy-five per cent of the men involved in the research said they were satisfied with the injection and would continue to use it if it were available.

Commenting on the research to the New Scientist, leading fertility expert Allan Pacey, from the University of Sheffield, said the evidence showed the injections to be "extremely effective" but he was concerned about the side effects: "For a male contraceptive to be accepted by men (or women) then it has to be well tolerated and not cause further problems. For me, this is the major concern of this study."


1. http://press.endocrine.org/doi/pdf/10.1210/jc.2016-2141

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