Where’s the male pill?

IT could be a few years before male birth control hits the market, with the trial of an injection ­­­abandoned after some participants complained about the side effects.

The results, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism last month, revealed 20 out of the 320 participants experienced acne, depression, muscle pain and increased libido.

The injection proved 96 per cent effective, but the side effects outweighed the benefits according to researchers and the trial was canned.

With such a small sample killing off the trial, it’s hard to imagine how the female contraceptive pill ever made it to market considering its 1956 introduction in Puerto Rico.

Women reported headaches, weight gain, nausea, dizziness and blood clots, but these were overlooked by researchers who ploughed on with their research regardless.

Fremantle doctor Catherine Douglass specialises in sexual health and fertility and says participants in trials generally don’t like side effects — especially men.

Dr Douglass says the lack of a male pill by 2016 is due to the fact it’s not seen as a mainstream issue.

“In the past they’ve looked into it, but it’s just not been that effective,” she says.

There is another sticking point; will women trust their sexual partners to be diligent about popping a pill regularly.

According to a small survey by IBtimes UK, less than half of women would trust their partner with the pill, but may base that on their own struggles to stay regular.

“Australia has a big problem with failing to take contraception, resulting in a high rate of abortions” says Dr Douglass.

“People just forget to take the pill,“ she says, noting a shift towards IUDs or implants because “you can’t forget them”.

Despite the trial’s hiccup, 75 per cent of participants were willing to continue using the contraceptive jab.

So when will there be another male contraceptive available besides condoms?

Vasalgel is the next most-likely contender and could be here in three years, according to its parent company Parsemus Foundation. It’s a sperm-blocking gel injected into the male vas deferens, currently being developed in the US.

by SJANNA SANDALOVA

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