Over the past century, women have had a wide range of birth control options available to them. Men, on the other hand, have been limited to the use of condoms (which are only 98% safe) or the rather daunting and completely permanent vasectomy operation.
The male contraceptive pill is on the horizon and you’re all ready for its arrival.
Still undergoing trials and developments, it’s thought that the pill will become available to men within the next three to five years by which time scientists will have agreed on the perfect dosage.
In this article, we’ll make sure you’re ready for the arrival of the male contraceptive pill, whenever that be. Read on to understand just how the pill works and stay up to date with the latest research findings.
What does the male contraceptive pill contain and how does it work?
The official name of the male contraceptive pill is dimethandrolone undecanoate (DMAU). It combines the activity of a female progestin hormone with a modified male androgen such as testosterone.
The progesterone hormone will prevent the production of sperm in the testes, meanwhile, the inclusion of a male androgen will ensure that the consumer will always have perfectly balanced hormonal levels. The combination of the two hormones is therefore key in avoiding the risk of negative health effects which can occur from hormonal imbalances.
How should the male contraceptive pill be taken?
Research into a male contraceptive pill began decades ago, however, scientists still have not decided just how the pill should be taken. Ongoing studies are being conducted in order to answer this question, so a definitive answer cannot yet be provided.
One early problem that scientists ran into when developing the pill related to the male metabolic rate. It was found that the male body would metabolise and clear out the pill too quickly, meaning that the pill would not be effective for the full 24 hours and would instead need to be taken twice daily.
To combat this, the newer DMAU version of the pill was made to contain a long-chain fatty acid which slows down the body’s clearance of the hormones, allowing for just one pill to be consumed each day.
The conclusion of the latest DMAU trials reveals that the pill is to be taken orally on a once-daily basis, much like the female combined pill. It should also be taken with food.
Does it actually work?
In 2018, a study funded by The National Institutes of Health was conducted to test the DMAU pill. The extremely positive results suggest that the new male contraceptive pill is looming close on the horizon.
83 men (aged between 18 and 50 years old) completed the study which was held at the University of Washington Medical Centre. Three different doses of the pill were tested against a placebo for 28 days.
Results reveal that the subjects taking the highest dosage of the pill (400mg) showed a ‘marked suppression’ of the hormones required for sperm production.
“These promising results are unprecedented in the development of a prototype male pill,” Stephanie Page, the study’s senior investigator, says.
Further, longer-term studies are now underway to confirm these results, making the next few years an exciting time for the future of the male contraceptive pill.
Are there any side effects?
The above most recent study found very few side effects, suggesting that the new pill is safe to be used.
“Despite having low levels of circulating testosterone, very few subjects reported symptoms consistent with testosterone deficiency or excess,” Page reports.
All participants passed safety tests including markers for liver and kidney function. No changes in sex drive were noted.
They did, however, notice weight gain in the groups taking DMAU, however, this was reported to be mild.
With scientists finally giving male birth control the green light, things are looking up. Continue reading to find out if the pill is suited to you.
Pros of taking oral contraception
No more pregnancy scares: Scientists claim the new pill will be 100% effective, making it one of the most reliable forms of contraception for you to enjoy sex without the fear of pregnancy.
Reversible: Unlike having a vasectomy, it is only a temporary method of contraception. When you stop taking the pill, your fertility will come back.
Scientists estimate that the sperm counts of most men taking the pill will return to pre-treatment levels 3-6 months after discontinuing the hormonal treatment.
Relieves pressure from women: The responsibility of taking contraceptive pills has always fallen on the woman until now. However, many women experience negative side effects from hormonal treatment such as mood swings and weight gain.
By taking the male contraceptive pill, you will be relieving these pressures and potentially damaging side effects from your partner.
Say goodbye to condoms: If you’re committed to one sexual partner who you know to be STI free, there will be no more need to use condoms during sex. Some men find sex less enjoyable with a condom on or may consider its application an annoying interruption during foreplay.
The male contraceptive pill may seem particularly attractive to these men as they are finally being offered a method to take responsibility for their own birth control that doesn’t affect their sexual pleasure in any way.
Cons of taking oral contraception
You must take it every day: As with the female oral contraceptive pill, you must consistently take the pill in order for it to work effectively. There is a big pressure to remember this, but there are many things you can do to help you remember. For example, you can incorporate the pill into a specific part of your daily routine or set reminders on your phone.
Won’t protect you from STI’s: Taking the pill won’t protect you from STI’s. For this reason, it is not recommended for men who are likely to engage in casual sex with multiple partners unless used with a condom.
So the male contraceptive pill is on the horizon and you’re all ready for its arrival. If all future trials go as planned, it could even become a reality in the next few years with the potential to change the face of birth control forever.
Hey, I’m Miranda! I’m the Men’s Health writer for iTHINK. I just graduated from the University of Birmingham with a degree in English Literature. In my spare time I love reading, writing and visiting new places.