Pregnancy is an important choice in life for any couple. There have only been a few ways to prevent pregnancy, until now, and most of them are revolved around the female. Now, there is a new monthly injection of testosterone that works as a contraceptive in men, allowing the accountability of birth control to be shared between both the sexes.
For years, scientists have been searching for a contraceptive to be the male equivalent to the Pill. Although the effects disappeared when the injections were stopped, the trials that were conducted in the 1990s found that weekly injections of testosterone lowered the sperm counts for 98 percent of the men. But the researchers felt that the weekly injections would be seen as too unpopular and troublesome with men so as not to be a very useful method of contraception.
But since then, researchers have been experimenting with injections that are oil-based. They combined the testosterone with tea seed oil which means that once it was injected, it was very slowly absorbed by the body which then means that the effect of a single injection could last for much longer. A new, larger-scale study has researched how well the monthly injections of testosterone has worked as a contraceptive and how safe these injections really are.
The recent study examined approximately 1,045 Chinese men that were between the ages of 20 and 45, were in a stable relationship and had fathered at least one child in the two years prior to the study. The men who were involved in the study took monthly injections of testosterone in their buttocks for six months. By now most of the men had very low sperm counts but the testosterone injections were unable to lower the sperm count in about 5 percent of the men.
If the injections were successful, the men continued to have the injections for two years. But many of the participants dropped out as time went by, so only 733 actually completed the trial. There were nine pregnancies during these two years and the sperm count rose again for just over 1 percent of the men. Overall, after the first year of the research, there was just1 pregnancy for every 100 men that participated. At the end of the second year, the pregnancy rate was fractionally higher at 1.1 per 100 men. When used perfectly, condoms have about a 2 in 100 pregnancy rate per year and with the female contraceptive pill, the pregnancy rate is approximately 0.3 in 100.
It is very important to remember that most of the contraceptives have a smaller effective rate in the real world than these ‘”perfect use” amounts suggest, because the condom can fail to work properly and people can forget to take a pill. It is now known whether the men’s sperm count rose again after the testosterone injections were stopped. For most of the men it took about 200 days for their sperm count to return to normal, however, 17 of the men still had not reacquired their fertility after one year.
The side of effects of the injections contained tenderness at the injection site, a rash or acne, and some of the men experienced an alteration in their sex drive. These changes varied from man to man, but the most ordinary side effect was a sex drive that was higher. The question is, what does this mean for me?
The injection is currently being tested in Phase III trials, which are certainly the largest scale human testings that are carried out before a new drug is released to the market. There is no definite time-line, but it is usually a few years from the successful culmination of Phase III trials to the launch of the new product.