Male Hormonal Contraceptives Show Promise

Men taking hormonal contraceptive treatments regain fertility in 3-4 months, according to researchers from UCLA and the University of Sydney. The researchers tout the potential for these treatments to “allow men to share more fairly the satisfaction and burden of family planning,” said Peter Liu of the Anzac Research Institute, the study’s lead author, in the medical journal Lancet.

The results, published in the April 29 issue of Lancet, analyze data from 30 studies carried out over the past 15 years on 1,549 men. The contraceptives can be injected or implanted under the skin, and suppress creation of sperm using the hormones androgen and progestagen. Once available, male hormonal contraception would be an alternative to the vasectomy operation, which is not always reversible.

Despite the recent progress, researchers in the field estimate that male hormonal contraceptives probably won’t be available for another 5-8 years. Professor David Handelsman, director of the Anzac Research Institute, suggested that the treatments might already be available if pharmaceutical companies expected them to be lucrative. “The pharmaceutical industry have just been, really, mostly interested spectators, and making only very minimal efforts to really do a development… There could be tremendous advances if they took it seriously, but the big dollars are really elsewhere,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.


The Lancet 4/29/06; Australian Broadcasting Corporation 4/28/06; BBC 4/28/06

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