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Health

Male contraceptive gel shows promise in early-stage clinical trials

In the field of reproductive health, male birth control appears to be a long-standing quest. Recently, a combined hormonal topical gel has shown promise in suppressing sperm production in a shorter period of time than investigational products tested in other clinical trials. Preliminary results were presented this week at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in Boston.

The study, part of phase 2b trials, included 222 men who received at least three weeks of daily treatment with a gel made from segesterone acetate and testosterone, a progestin medication. The compound was developed by the Population Council, a nonprofit organization that focuses on reproductive health, in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health.

As part of the trial, researchers performed sperm count tests every four weeks to assess sperm suppression. They aimed for a sperm count of 1 million or less per milliliter for effective contraception. The normal sperm count is between 15 and 200 million sperm per milliliter of semen. By week 15, 86 percent of participants had reached the low threshold, with sperm production generally suppressed by the eighth week of treatment.

Diana Blithe, head of the contraceptive development program at the National Institutes of Health, said the results marked an important milestone and said she views male contraception as much of a men’s health issue as a women’s.

Blithe said women who participated in the clinical trials with their partners felt relieved when they were able to stop using hormonal birth control for the duration of the study.

“Many women have difficulty with various contraceptive methods, and an eye-opening aspect of the clinical trial was listening to women and understanding what it meant for them to participate in the study, particularly when they could stop. using their birth control for a year,” Blithe said.

The only effective forms of birth control available commercially for men are vasectomies, which are not easily reversible, and condoms, which have little acceptance.

Here is what you need to know about the gel studied and the state of research on male contraception.

News Source : www.washingtonpost.com
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