Clinical trials of a new male birth control pill have just finished up, and based on the results this may be a viable option for birth control in the future. This drug called dimethandrolene undeconate or DMAU is the most recent breakthrough in the male contraceptive industry.
Birth control pills and other pills that can be used by women as a contraceptive have been around for close to 70 years, so naturally men have been wondering why there have been no products designed for them, which act in a similar manner. The reason why these types of pills have traditionally been so successful in women while failing in men have to do with differences in their biochemistry, and how these pills are metabolized.
The way in which these pills were metabolized in men made it so that they were ineffective, as their compounds were quickly digested, synthesized and eliminated by the body. This means that the active ingredients within these drugs weren’t working within the body for an adequate time before they were processed, meaning that they didn’t work.
The difference here is that the DMAU compound has a long fatty acid chain added to its chemical structure, which helps to slow down its metabolism. This compound has shown promise as a male contraceptive because it takes longer for the body to process, allowing it to circulate throughout the body for longer period of time. This pill needs only to be taken once per day, making it both effective and convenient.
How Does DMAU Compare to Other Birth Control Pills?
This new male contraceptive pill works in a similar manner as the ones which do so for women, as it combines the activity of male hormones and female hormones, such as testosterone and progestin. Subjects were given varying amounts of DMAU, to where those who were tested at the highest levels of 400 mg per day showed that their testosterone levels were suppressed.
Decreases in testosterone levels in men could be a cause of concern for many reasons, especially as far as their sex drive is concerned. This study showed that even at the highest doses, individuals experienced no change in their sex drive.
The key point you need to take away from this drug here is that birth control pills do have to lower testosterone levels in order to affect sperm production, and in order for it to be an effective pill. It requires a delicate balancing act however as dropping testosterone levels too low can have wide-ranging negative health effects, and is why this pill in particular shows so much promise.
What Does This Mean for the Contraceptive Industry?
While this pill certainly does show promise, the scope of this trial was rather narrow considering that there were less than 100 participants in this study, and that the study was only conducted over the course of a month. This tells us that this pill is still in its infancy as far as the development is concerned, and that we shouldn’t expect this type of pill to hit the market anytime soon.
This means that birth control pills designed for women, condoms, diaphragms and other forms of birth control which we are using now are still going to be the ones we use predominantly in the near future.
With that being said, the importance of this breakthrough should not be understated. Birth control pills have been around close to 70 years now, while the condom has been around since the mid 1800s. We are long overdue for a revolution in male birth control, and the development of DMAU is certainly a huge step in the right direction.