Developed by Scottish researchers, a contraceptive pill tested on 60 men in Edinburgh (Scotland) and Shanghai (China) proved to be 100% effective. Other trials will have to be conducted, but researchers plan to put it on the market within five years. In the 1960s, the invention of the pill had marked a real revolution of morals. But until then, it had no male equivalent, largely because of the differences between the reproductive apparatus: a woman produces one egg per month and the man 30 million sperm per day. In addition, the fertility period of a woman stops at menopause while a man remains fertile all his life. Finally, the testicles are the place of formation of sperm but also that of testosterone, the main male hormone responsible for virile characteristics: hair, musculature, etc. Stopping the formation of some while allowing that of the other has long proved to be an insoluble puzzle.
Tests to be extended to more volunteers Researchers at the University of Edinburgh seem to have found the parry using a combination of testosterone and desogestrel, a synthetic steroid used in the hormone pill for women. “This pill suppresses the secretion of gonadotropin or gonadotropin and therefore the absence of spermatozoa in sperm (azoospermia),” says Dr. Richard Anderson, a member of the research team at the University of Edinburgh. The administration of desogestrel is coupled with the addition of testosterone, which counteracts the loss of libido caused by the secretion of gonadotropins.
If the man takes one of these pills each day, the sperm production will be stopped within three months. In the same way, sperm production returns to normal three months after stopping this contraceptive. The tests described in publication 1 were carried out on 30 people at the end of which no side effects (acne, increased blood pressure, etc.) and a 100% efficacy were determined. According to Dr. Anderson, “this pill is very largely free of side effects, some men have taken a little weight but not in proportions leading to a stop of the tests”. The researchers are about to conclude another series of tests on 60 men in which it appears that an adequate combination of the two compounds leads to azoospermia. New tests will have to be conducted in Africa (South Africa and Nigeria) to confirm these results. It is to be feared that disparities will appear from one individual to another. The full results of the study should be made public at the World Conference of Gynecologists and Obstetricians to be held in September in Washington.
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Contraception: a men’s affair? The pharmaceutical company Organon, which is currently producing this pill, is hoping to be on the market within five years. For women whose pill may be contraindicated for blood pressure problems, this new method of contraception may be an alternative. “I believe there is a small but real market for a pill for humans,” says Dr. Anderson. Nevertheless, contraception often appears as a women’s affair. In case of unprotected intercourse, only women will have to face a pregnancy. If the weak sex seems to welcome the development of a pill for men. According to a study on contraception in France, a report after 30 years of liberalization 2, “men rely heavily on the contraception of their partners or partners.This is probably, moreover, the wish of them (…) “.
The pill is hard to swallow for the man Only four out of ten men are ready to take a contraceptive pill. This is the result of a survey launched by the Science Museum in London on the occasion of an exhibition on the theme of male contraception. Stopping the production of sperm, this male version should be available in less than four years. 56% of men are worried about the possible long-term effects of this new method of contraception. Nevertheless, 61% are for the pill to be given to boys at school. But, are women ready to believe a partner who would say “do not worry, darling, I’m taking the pill”?
Alain Sousa Sources:
Survey commissioned by the Science Museum of London
This pill is more suitable for the couple having a stable relationship; however, just like the women’s pill, it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. The only effective protection is the condom, which must be everyone’s business.
David Bême Updated on 20 March 2018 Sources:
1-Dose-finding study of oral desogestrel with testosterone pellets for suppression of the pituitary-testicular axis in normal men, C.W.Martin et al., Human Reproduction, Vol.15, No. 7, 1515-1524, July 20002 – Contraception in France – A report after 30 years of liberalization, Catherine de Guibret-Lantoine, Henri Leridon, INED study.