Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 5th 2016 Contents A26
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, November 5, 2016
A birth control pill for men remains an elusive dream.
Whether it s an IUD, a shot, an implant, or a
daily pill, birth control is a regular part of many
adult women s lives. It s left a lot of women asking:
why not men?
For years, people have tried to create birth control
for men. The World Health Organization commis-
sioned what sounded like a promising trial, a two-
hormone injection designed to lower sperm count.
Initial results looked like it would be 96 per cent
effective in preventing pregnancy in the participants
But the Stage II trial was stopped after an inde-
pendent review panel found that the drug had too
many side effects. The results were published recently
in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metab-
olism. Here is an NPR interview from their show
All Things Considered, in which Audie Cornish sat
down with NPR science correspondent Rob Stein
to discuss the trial, and the reason it was cancelled.
These are excerpts of their conversation, edited
for length and clarity.
Q: How did this latest study work?
A: It was a pretty big study; they gave shots
to 320 men every eight weeks, in different
countries around the world.
The shot contained two hormones, and it worked
pretty well. It knocked down their sperm counts
significantly, and there were only a handful of preg-
nancies among partners of men in the trial.
But two committees were paying close attention
to the study, and they realised that a lot of guys
were dropping out because they were experiencing
side effects. The most common side effect was acne,
and sometimes that acne was pretty severe. Some
men also developed mood swings and in some cases
those mood swings got pretty bad.
One man developed severe depression, and another
tried to commit suicide. Because of that, they cut
the study short.
But when they spoke with guys in the study who
didn t drop out, most said that if this product was
available, they would use it.
There's been a lot of eye rolling on the Internet
about these side effects, because women have
been experiencing things like mood swings and
weight gain for decades with hormonal birth con-
No birth control is perfect. Almost everything
has some sort of side effect. And the side effects
they saw in this study were not that different from
those you see with other kinds of birth control---
except for the severe emotional problems. That was
definitely more than we see with the birth control
But there s a little bit of a different risk-benefit
analysis when it comes to men using a contraceptive.
When women use a contraceptive, they re bal-
ancing the risks of the drug against the risks of get-
ting pregnant. And pregnancy itself carries risks.
But these are healthy men---they re not going to
suffer any risks if they get somebody else pregnant.
Why is it harder to develop birth control for men
That s the a big question. There are a couple of
reasons. One is that it s harder from a biological
point of view. If you think about it, it s a numbers
game: women produce one egg a month, while men
are producing millions of sperm constantly. With
women, you can take advantage of their normal
monthly cycle with the birth control pill. There s
nothing equivalent to that in men.
What does this mean for male birth control in
general? Is this particular study a big setback, or
is it no big deal?
It s a setback and it s definitely a disappointment.
People had a lot of optimism about this study.
But I ve talked to a bunch of sci-
entists about this, and they say they re
not giving up yet.
They re going to tinker with the
doses of the hormones to see if they
can come up with safer levels.
They re also going to try different
kinds of hormones and maybe admin-
ister them differently, like in a gel or
an implant. They could also target
how a sperm works by making it not
swim as well, making it worse at fer-
tilizing the egg.
There s a lot of research still going
on, but most of it is at a fairly early
level. Scientists are saying, "we re
gonna keep trying," but they re still a
decade away of coming up with some-
thing for men. (NPR)
Male birth control study killed after
men complain about side effects
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
Links Archive November 4th 2016 November 6th 2016 Navigation Previous Page Next Page