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Male contraceptive a step closer

Almost fifty years since the female contraceptive pill became available, scientists may have found a reliable and reversible male hormonal contraceptive

Almost fifty years since the female contraceptive pill became available, scientists may have found a reliable and reversible male hormonal contraceptive.

Men aged 20-45 years were injected monthly with 500mg of a testosterone undecanoate (TU) formulation for thirty months. All participants had female partners aged between 18 and 38 years, with normal reproductive function, and all had fathered at least one child in the two years before the trial. 

Results of the Chinese study, to be published in the The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) in June, showed a pregnancy rate of 1.1 per 100 in the partners of men in the 24-month efficacy phase, which compares favourably with the female contraceptive pill. 

The study is the largest multicentre efficacy trial of a male hormonal contraceptive to date. No serious adverse events were reported among the 1,045 men who took part and all but two regained fertility, within the normal range, after the trial.

Lead author Dr Yi-Qun Gu, of the National Research Institute for Family Planning in Beijing, said in a press release: "Our study shows a male hormonal contraceptive regimen may be a potential, novel and workable alternative."

He stressed, however, that the long-term safety of the injection needed further research: "Despite the present encouraging results, the long-term safety of this hormonal male contraceptive regimen requires more extensive testing with a focus on cardiovascular, prostate and behavioural safety."

5th May 2009

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