Male contraceptive pill steps closer to reality, passes safety test

Henrietta Brewer
March 30, 2019

A second viable option for male hormonal birth control has passed the rigorous human safety tests and and shown promising results, USA researchers say. The preliminary results of the latest drug - which goes by the abbreviation 11-beta-MNTDC - were presented Monday at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society.

The experimental male oral contraceptive is called 11-beta-methyl-19-nortestosterone dodecylcarbonate, or 11-beta-MNTDC.

According to the BBC, this week, scientists in the United States announced that an experimental oral drug called 11-beta-MNTDC looks to be safe and tolerable, based on results from a phase 1 clinical trial involving 40 men.

"Our results suggest that this pill, which combines two hormonal activities in one, will decrease sperm production while preserving libido", Wang said.

For the study, Page and colleagues invited forty healthy men to participate in a trial at the University of Washington and Los Angeles Biomed Research Institute, where the drug is being developed. Ten of the men were given a placebo.

To test the drug 40 healthy men, ages 18 to 50 were given the pill in addition to 10 who received a placebo.

Instead of making man use condoms or getting them vasectomies, scientists made a decision to create a contraceptive pill for them that they have been working on for years now testing a lot of prototypes. The drug aims to get the levels of hormones suppressed as they drive the sperm and testosterone's production in the testes. Two men also reported having mild erectile dysfunction, although they did not report any decrease in sexual activity.

Moreover, none of the participants stopped taking the pill because of these side effects, and all passed safety tests.

Experts say the drugs signal to the brain that testosterone levels are adequate, inhibiting the pathways that ultimately lead to the production of sperm.

Because the drug would take at least 60 to 90 days to affect sperm production, 28 days of treatment is too short an interval to observe optimal sperm suppression, Wang said.

If those tests prove effective, there will be larger studies and then testing in sexually active couples.

It could still be 10 years before we see male oral contraception hitting our shelves.

11-Beta-MNTDC is a "sister compound" to dimethandrolone undecanoate, the first potential male birth control pill to be tested by the same researchers.

The study's co-senior investigator, Stephanie Page, said that the pill would finally give men another method of contraception. The researchers are now planning follow-up trials for 11-beta-MNTDC and a functionally similar chemical called dimethandrolone undecanoate (DMAU). Their results were published February 1 in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

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