Birth control for men? We’re getting closer…

Until now, men who are concerned with unwanted pregnancy (and that, contrary to stereotype, would be just about all men) have had two basic options: vasectomy and condoms. But that may be changing soon.

Researchers are now investigating a gel that, when applied to a man’s skin, drastically lowers his sperm count. That also lowers the risk for pregnancy (but, unfortunately, doesn’t eliminate it completely).

Christina Wang, a professor at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute created the gel from combination of testosterone and another compound called Nestorone.

The combination gel reduced the sperm count of 89 percent of men treated with it from an average of about 15 million sperm per milliliter to less than 1 million (still sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?) And 78 percent of men receiving the combo gel had sperm counts of zero.

The only immediate side effect—experienced by 21 percent of participants—was an increase in acne. But there’s still a lot of research to be done into longer-term side effects such as breast growth, impotence, or permanent reduction in sperm count (all of which are of great concern to men).

The study was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development and Dr. Wang is investigating other hormone combination which may be more successful in eliminating sperm counts.

More details are available here.


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