Health News

Drug candidates could provide new birth control options for men


For decades, researchers have been working on “male birth control”—and studies show there is a demand. While concerns about side effects and efficacy have kept such options from the marketplace, efforts are moving forward, and at least one has the potential for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval within the next decade, according to a cover story in Chemical & Engineering News.

One approach to a male contraceptive involves using testosterone, alone or in combination with other hormones, to stop the creation of sperm, writes Associate Editor Gina Vitale. A gel using this approach is currently in Phase 2 clinical trials with minimal side effects so far. But hormonal methods can have drawbacks. One issue is that hormones act throughout the body, making them difficult or impossible to tolerate for some people, and they don’t adequately suppress sperm production in all users. And some men may be wary of hormonal methods. Other companies and researchers are hoping to develop nonhormonal methods that could circumvent these potential shortcomings. Some candidates work by targeting proteins that play a key role in generating sperm, while others target proteins that are important later in a sperm’s journey, such as those that enable it to swim properly. However, toxicity could be a concern for some nonhormonal methods.

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