N E W Y O R K, July 18 -- The first male contraceptive pill could be on the market within five years, according to British scientists.
The contraceptive, developed by the Dutch firm Organon and tested in Scotland, China, South Africa and Nigeria, is one hundred percent effective and has no harmful side effects, according to researchers.
Studies in Edinburgh and Shanghai were the first to be completed and researchers there reported that during the six-month study the pill successfully made 60 volunteers temporarily infertile. Test subjects stopped producing sperm without experiencing acne or high blood pressure — two side effects that previously plagued the male pill, the New York Post reported.
The pill is made up of a combination of the male sex hormone testosterone and desogestrel, a synthetic steroid found in the female pill which temporarily inhibits sperm production, a member of the research team was quoted as saying.
Traditionally, female contraception has been easier to develop because women produce few eggs per cycle, while men produce millions of sperm. The new male pill works by introducing hormones into the bloodstream which stop sperm production.
“It’s certainly interesting,” said Grace Centola, president of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology, commenting on the findings. “The only concern is that they are using hormones and we don’t always know the long-term effects of some steroids.”
Too Soon To Tell
“It is certainly very encouraging. We could have a male pill within five years. It could be as effective as the female pill, but more trials have to be done,” said Professor David Baird, a member of the Edinburgh University-based team of scientists.
But Paul Doering, a professor of pharmacy practice at the College of Pharmacy, University of Florida in Gainesville, and co-director of the Drug Information and Pharmacy Resource Center Shands, also at the University of Florida, warns against premature excitement about the findings, saying that 60 people makes for a small study.