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Male Birth Control Pills Are Even Closer To Becoming A Reality

Participants passed all the safety tests in a clinical trial.

Men could soon be able to take birth control pills.

Dimethandrolone undecanoate, or DMAU, is an experimental male contraceptive that was just successfully tested on 83 men as safe and potentially-effective birth control after being taken daily for one month. The study, conducted by the University of Washington and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in California, showed great progress in the ongoing development of male birth control, according to a press release from the Endocrine Society.

After all, it takes two to tango.

Similar to the pill used by women, the male contraceptive tested on 100 of the participants combined an androgen (a male hormone like testosterone) and a progestin. Investigators tested three doses of DMAU — 100, 200, and 400 mg — on healthy men aged 18 to 50. In the end, 83 of the 100 men finished the study.

"DMAU is a major step forward in the development of a once-daily 'male pill' ... Many men say they would prefer a daily pill as a reversible contraceptive, rather than long-acting injections or topical gels, which are also in development," Stephanie Page, the study's lead investigator, said in a press release.

Prior to this, men have relied on tactics such as the "pull-out method" or condom use for temporary contraception. Condoms can have an allergic or uncomfortable experience for some male users, and the pull-out method is less-than guaranteed from protection against pregnancy. It is only 78 per cent effective, and cannot protect from STDs, Planned Parenthood reported.

DMAU could provide a more updated approach to male contraception, similar to the contraception women use. The female birth control pill is 91 per cent effective based on how it is used, Planned Parenthood wrote. It's 99 per cent effective when taken perfectly, Planned Parenthood wrote, but added that it's difficult to do this.

On the first and final days of the new study, the participants gave blood samples which were used for hormone and cholesterol tests, according to the press release. Those who took the highest dose of DMAU had "marked suppression" of testosterone levels and of two hormones needed for the creation of sperm.

Though there were low levels of testosterone, not many participants had symptoms consistent with testosterone "deficiency or excess," Page said. The groups who took DMAU experienced weight gain and had lowered levels of HDL, or "good" cholesterol, side effects that Page noted were mild. All participants also passed safety tests, Science Daily reported.

"These promising results are unprecedented in the development of a prototype male pill ... Longer term studies are currently underway to confirm that DMAU taken every day blocks sperm production," Page said.

In Canada, oral contraceptives for women have been available for more than 50 years, and are the most often-used form of reversible contraception, Statistics Canada reported. Oral contraceptives are one of the medications most often used by Canadian women.

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