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December 3rd, 2009
Birth Control for Men May be Available in the Future

Men and women have asked the same question for years: “what happens if a man takes birth control?” For the first time in history, birth control may be available for men as a hormonal male contraceptive that is safe, effective and reversible. Many researchers are expecting and hoping that this medication may become commercially offered in the near future as a form of Canadian prescription drugs.

A reversal of roles may come with the introduction of a male daily pill, a patch or gel applied to the skin, an injection that is given every 3 months, or an implant which can be placed under the skin every year.

Dr. Andrea Coviello, a researcher helping with the development and testing of male contraceptives at the University of Washington says “it largely depends on how funding continues. The technology is there. We know how it would work.”

Coviello and fellow researchers discovered that options for male contraceptives that release testosterone over a period of three months are a potential safe and practical method of protection.

Larry Setlow, a participant in the study commented that “I never had any real noticeable side effects. I didn’t notice any mood changes. I may have put on a little weight” after receiving both the pills and tri-monthly injections.

Sperm cell counts for participants dropped down to zero in most cases.

The most common form of contraception has remained to be the female oral contraceptive pill developed in the 1960s and marketed today as alesse, yasmin, LoEstrin, Nuvaring along with countless others prescription drugs.

While birth control pills for females use hormones, estrogens and progestins to stop the release of eggs, male pills would release testosterone and progestins to turn off sperm production.

Many men react to this future contraceptive with negativity, claiming that the pill has been a woman’s responsibility and it should stay that way. However, many famous athletes or singers may benefit from extra protection from women that use these men to become pregnant.

Dr. Christina Wang, head researcher of the clinical trials in Harbor-UCLA, has said that in many countries an affordable, reversible and long-acting contraceptive for males may become offered for sale within the next 2 years. This could take longer though, because waiting for approval from the U.S. FDA takes at least 5 years.

Greater interest in the male birth control has led to more funding and research. The question remains whether or not men will actually take the pill. When asked, several say yes, many say only if their partners force them too, and the majority say they would never even think about taking it.

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