Clinical trials for what could become the first form of male birth control medication have officially begun.
What kind of contraception or birth control to use can be a tricky decision to make, and may often lead to awkward conversations between you and your partner. There are so many forms out there, all with their own unique pros and cons, and it can be difficult to see eye to eye on which one is the best to go for.
What makes contraception conversations even more awkward is that when it comes to birth control medication, all of the burden falls on women. There is no such thing as the "morning after pill" for a man. Not yet anyway. However, scientists are hard at work, and a new clinical trial is proof that a form of male birth control is now closer than ever before.
It's not a pill though, it's a gel. It's also not something the user will consume. The gel is applied to the arms and shoulders, and during the trial, this will be done for 20 weeks, as reported by Gizmodo. Doing this will hopefully cause the users' sperm counts to plummet so low that they are considered infertile. An odd use of the word hopefully, we know.
After those 20 weeks have passed, the testers will continue to use the gel for pregnancy prevention for another year. After that, those in charge of the trial will monitor the users for a further six months to ensure their sperm counts return to normal. The gel is a combination of nestorone and testosterone. The nestorone causes testosterone levels to drop in men, hence it being combined with the hormone. The hope is that the sperm count will still drop, but the other effects caused by a testosterone drop will be remedied.
As you might have guessed from the timeline laid out above and the fact that the trial is only just beginning, we are still a long way away from male birth control being readily available on the market. However, Christina Wang, a researcher at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, believes that if it does reach the general population, it is something that will be available for all, not just those with a lot of money.