Like the pill for women, the experimental male oral contraceptive-called dimethandrolone undecanoate, or DMAU-combines activity of an androgen (male hormone) like testosterone, and a progestin, and is taken once a day, said the study's senior investigator, Dr Stephanie Page, Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington.
In what has been described as a "major step forward", the drug was successfully tested on 83 men for a month for the first time.
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Progress toward a male birth control pill has been stymied because, according to Page, available oral forms of testosterone may cause liver inflammation, and they clear the body too quickly for once-daily dosing, thus requiring two doses a day.
The once-daily prototype pill suppressed certain hormones to the low levels you'd expect to see with effective longer-term contraceptives, results from an ENDO 2018, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in Chicago, abstract show. One was given placebo capsules containing either castor oil or benzyl benzoate, then the other three were asked to take varying dosages of the male birth control pills on a daily basis for 28 days. She explained that many men would opt for a once daily pill that provides them with reversible contraception rather than go in for topical gels or long acting injections of DMAU that would provide longer term contraception. DMAU is developed by the National Institutes of Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, that also sponsored this study. However, DMAU contains undecanoate, which slows down this clearance. Five persons in each group received a placebo and 12 to 15 men received the DMAU pills. These promising results are unprecedented in the development of a prototype male pill. Researchers analyzed the men's hormones and cholesterol with blood tests at the start and end of the study. The researchers have discovered that a 400 mg dose of DMAU is enough to lower the male hormones involved in sperm production without affecting the sex drive.
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Page also said that few participants in the study reported having symptoms consistent with testosterone deficiency, although all groups reported weight gain and decreases in healthy cholesterol.
At 100 milligrams, the contraceptive was comparable to effective male contraception in long-term trials, Page said. But Page said this was mild and not a reason for concern, and that liver and kidney function was good.
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