Birth control pills are one of the most commonly used forms of contraception. Since its FDA approval in 1960, however, the oral contraceptive has been available only to women. Scientists and pharmaceutical companies have spent decades attempting to create “the pill” for men but, to this day, have not been able to produce a safe and effective variant.
Led by Dr. Stephanie Page of the University of Washington School of Medicine, the study tested the efficacy of a drug called dimethandrolone undecanoate or DMAU.
DMAU essentially tricks the body into thinking that it has sufficient testosterone levels, thus reducing the hormones involved in sperm production.
The study involved 83 men separated into one control group (given placebo) and three treatment groups that were administered varying doses of DMAU, over the span of 28 days. The largest dose of the drug, which was 400mg, proved to be the most effective as there was a significant reduction in sperm-producing hormones.
However, researchers did note that the testosterone levels had dropped to an alarmingly low number. Other side effects reported by the participants include: a decreased libido, a decrease in HDL cholesterol, and weight gain—things which women on the pill are already pretty familiar with.
Oral forms of testosterone are known to cause inflammation and damage of the liver. But compared to previous studies done on male birth control pills, the side effects of DMAU are significantly less and did not appear to cause any problems to the liver.
There are several contraceptive tools available today. However, most of them are for women. Non-surgical methods include birth control pills, implants, patches, injectables, female condoms, and vaginal rings. Men, on the other hand, can use a condom or pull out.
Because the study was only conducted for 28 days, it’s still too early to tell whether or not DMAU will be safe for long-term use. But this development in male contraception might make us rethink how we go about pregnancy prevention, and distribute the responsibility of birth control more equally, as it should be.
Header photo courtesy of Pixabay.
Writer: JESSICA ALBERTO