Doctors say male birth control pill in the works

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A new study claims a birth control pill for men appears to be safe when used daily, but it's not yet clear how well it works.

As this was a trial experiment, "longer-term studies are now underway to confirm that DMAU taken every day blocks sperm production", Oage said - adding, however, "these promising results are unprecedented in the development of a prototype male pill". "Many men say they would prefer a daily pill as a reversible contraceptive, rather than long-acting injections or topical gels, which are also in development".

But DMAU proved promising in a recent study conducted by the University of Washington Medical Center and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California.

The researchers found that, after taking the drug for 28 days, testosterone in the blood dropped to castrate levels for all three doses. However, DMAU contains undecanoate, which slows down this clearance. Each dose group included five subjects who were randomly assigned to receive an inactive placebo and another 12 to 15 men who received DMAU.

Taken daily, it could bring sperm count low enough so a man cannot get his partner pregnant. Men who were on the highest dose of the pill - 400 mg - showed "marked suppression" of levels of their testosterone and two hormones required for sperm production. It must be taken with food, however, to be effective.

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Studies on DMAU will continue in order to confirm that if taken daily, it will, in fact, block the production of sperm and can act as an effective form of birth control.

Results of the UW study showed very few of the man "reported symptoms consistent with testosterone deficiency or excess".

"Sex drive, maintaining muscle, all of those important male characteristics are maintained by the hormone that we're giving the men", said Page. "We did see mild weight gain and an increase in cholesterol levels and that may require us to fine tune the dosing, but overall we are very encouraged about the safety profile of dimethandrolone", Dr. Page told MedPageToday.

The newest drug, DMAU, however, showed a marked reduction in many of these unwanted effects and it also did not appear to damage the liver, a known outcome of testosterone use, according to Page.

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