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Male birth control pill could become reality

| Thursday, March 22, 2018, 10:12 a.m.
A one-month dosage of hormonal birth control pills in Sacramento, Calif.
A one-month dosage of hormonal birth control pills in Sacramento, Calif.

A new effort is afoot to create a male birth control pill.

The prospect could become reality in the next decade , researchers said.

A National Institutes of Health study at the University of Washington Medical Center and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, Calif., of 100 healthy men between the ages of 18 and 50 found that a new pill called dimethandrolone undecanoate — DMAU — when taken daily suppressed hormones required for sperm production. The pill contains a combination of hormones including testosterone and progestin.

"A lot of men have said they would like to see better birth control for men," said Sonya Borrero, MD, MS, Director, Center for Women's Health Research and Innovation at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

"There seems to be a demand for it."

For the study, different doses of DMAU were given to 83 men over 28- days. At the highest dose tested, the study participants had a marked suppression of the hormones needed for sperm production. Researchers said DMAU has overcome side effects of previous male birth control pills, including less liver inflammation.

Possible side effects include a decreased sex drive, fatigue and weight gain.

The next step for DMAU is a 3-month trial. If that proves successful, then researchers will conduct a 12-month study.

"Our goal — and everyone's goal in this field — is to develop a method for men that has minimal side effects, and the holy grail would be to develop something that also has a health benefit for men," said Dr. Stephanie Page, an endocrinologist at the University of Washington School of Medicine and a lead author of the study.

The last attempt at a male birth control pill dissolved in 2016 when the drug was proven to cause liver damage.

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