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New Male Birth Control Enters Testing Phase

There could be a new male birth control gel on the horizon.

Male Birth Control - Sperm

Currently, the gel is in a testing phase, which participant Logan Whitehead has experienced, according to NBC News. Whitehead said he liked the gel when he applied it to his shoulders.

“It was basically like a hand sanitizer solution,” Whitehead said. “Smelled like hand sanitizer, looked like hand sanitizer."

The gel, specifically, is a hormonal solution “meant to block Whitehead’s sperm production." The product is comprised of testosterone as well as a synthetic hormone called Nestorone that reduces sperm production. It’s the most advanced among a crop of novel birth control options.

“The gel was such an easy process,” he said. “It was basically like taking the pill for the day.”

Additionally, Whitehead mentioned that he didn't notice any side effects from the gel, except for severe back acne and some weight gain, though it could be linked to a new sedentary job.

Just last Sunday at the Endocrine Society’s conference in Boston, researchers from the National Institutes of Health’s Contraceptive Development Program presented encouraging phase 2 trial results for the hormonal gel.

In all, the trial involved 222 men, ages 18 to 50, who applied 5 milliliters of the gel to each of their shoulders once a day.

Part two of the two-part trial is still ongoing. Initial findings showed that the contraceptive worked faster than normal, according to the chief of NIH’s Contraceptive Development Program, Diana Blith.

Following 12 weeks of applying the gel every day, 86% of the participants achieved sperm suppression, which means they had only up to 1 million sperm per milliliter of semen, which is the amount the researchers deemed effective for contraception.

On average, the timing for effective contraception was the full eight weeks.

In comparison analysis, normal sperm counts used without contraception can run from 15 million to 200 million per milliliter.

The faster-than-expected timing to stop sperm is encouraging since past attempts have taken longer to hit sperm levels, Blith said in a news release regarding the new data.

“We’ve been pushing for hormonal male contraceptives for 50 years, but there isn’t enough money available to really drive something through a very large phase 3 trial," Daniel Johnston, chief of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Contraception Research Branch, said.

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