In a preliminary study, researchers found that when men took an experimental pill every day for a month, the drug appeared to act in ways that could potentially block sperm production, and it seemed to be safe. He said if the final stage of development is successful, trials would then commence and the pill could be on the market within five years.
According to Page, multinational surveys indicate that a majority of men are interested in more options for reversible contraception. Known as dimethandrolone undecanoate, or DMAU, research was presented at Chicago's annual Endocrine Society meeting that a month-long trial was recently completed with positive results. The pill is a combination contraceptive similar to birth control pills used by women, except that it combines the male hormone testosterone with a progestin.
"Many men say they would prefer a daily pill as a reversible contraceptive, rather than long-acting injections or topical gels, which are also in development", the study's senior investigator Stephanie Page, M.D., PhD said. The team have overcome previous problems that assailed developers of male hormonal pills, she believes. Additionally, that testosterone levels can cause liver inflammation. However, "undecanoate" in DMAU is a long chain fatty acid that can slow the drug's journey out of the body, Page says.
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The men who participated in the double-blind study took a placebo or one of three different doses of DMAU for 28 days.
This recent study for a once-daily pill for men was carried out with groups in Washington and California. DMAU needs to be taken with food to work properly, the researchers noted. Those who took the highest dose of DMAU had "marked suppression" of testosterone levels and of two hormones needed for the creation of sperm.
Low testosterone levels can lead to loss of sex drive and fatigue, but most of those on the trial did not appear to suffer.
"Despite having low levels of circulating testosterone, very few subjects reported symptoms consistent with testosterone deficiency or excess".
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As for any negative side effects, the volunteers did show signs of weight gain and a decrease in good cholesterol but these were mild. All participants passed safety tests including liver and kidney health checks.
An attempt to develop a safe and effective "male pill" is making headway, according to preliminary results of a small study.
"Longer term studies are now under way to confirm that DMAU taken every day blocks sperm production", a coauthor said in a statement.
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