The scientists have finally made some progress in developing a birth control pill for men, experts at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in New Orleans have heard.
The experimental male pill, known as 11-beta-MNTDC containing hormones designed to stop sperm production, has passed the initial human safety tests, the medical professionals confirmed.
While women have numerous options to avoid pregnancy, men have only two for now - surgical vasectomy and condoms.
Although the latest safety results looked promising, the doctors are still cautious as they have to conduct additional tests. In the best case scenario and depending on the future experiments, the male pill would hit the market in about ten years.
The initial test phase of the experimental hormonal pill for men lasted 28 days, the researchers explained. The experiment included 40 healthy men, ages 18 to 50. Ten of the participants received a placebo.
Dr. Christina Wang from the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Center, who conducted the trial, noted ''no serious adverse events'', besides several cases of fatigue, headache, acne, decreased sexual drive and mild erectile dysfunction. Five of the participants complained of slight changes in their libido. Two more suffered from mild erectile dysfunction.
Dr. Bobby Najari, who has been serving as an assistant professor and director of the Male Infertility Program at NYU, found the results exciting, highlighting it would allow men to be more active in family planning. He also emphasized the importance of further research to make sure the male oral contraceptive is safe and effective. Prof Najari was not part of the research team.
11-beta-MNTDC is not the first male pill Prof Wang, and her team has been working on lately. Moreover, last year she, Dr. Stephanie Page and a group of researchers from the University of Washington School of Medicine introduced a similar drug called in the previous year's edition of the same conference. Their clinical trials on 100 men have given the research team the green light to proceed with the second round of testing.
During the conference, two of the leading British experts in andrology, Prof Richard Anderson, of the University of Edinburgh and Allan Pacey, professor of andrology, at the University of Sheffield questioned the potential market of the male pill.
Prof Anderson who is currently making clinical trials of a male contraceptive body gel said that the pharmaceutical market did not seem to be interested in male contraception which led to a lack of investment in further studies.
Prof Pacey echoed his colleague saying that for the pharmaceutical companies it was a matter of business, and not a case of science.
What do you think? Do you support or oppose the idea of having a male contraceptive pill?