A new form of male birth control is being tested by scientists.
In the world of male birth control, guys currently have two options: condoms or a vasectomy. But a third possibility may be available in the future that is gaining lots of buzz.
A contraceptive gel.
Scientists are testing a prototype that will work as a form of male birth control, according to a published report in MIT Technology Review.
Made of two lab-created hormones, testosterone and a synthetic form of progestin, the gel can be applied to the upper body regions daily (arms and shoulders) to help prevent pregnancy.
If the drug works correctly, the progestin is supposed to lower male sperm count while the testosterone acts as a balancing agent to prevent mood swings.
Previous forms of male contraception involving testosterone proved problematic, such as the 2016 trial of an injectable.
Researchers say the gel should be used for a month to realize the full benefits. Moreover, there is room for forgiveness, meaning if a guy forgets a dose, he still has a 72-hour window where his sperm levels will remain suppressed.
It’s important to note that should this form of male birth control become available, there are some men who won’t be able to use it for medical reasons.
Will guys use a gel?
The real question remains is will guys use it? Research has shown that men already dislike using condoms for a variety of reasons. Will a gel-based form of contraception change anything?
One of the study’s principal investigators, Stephanie Page, a professor of Medicine at University of Washington said she’s “very confident that if men put the gel on every day and apply it correctly, it will be effective.”
Men’s Culture spoke to Dr. Tyler Fortman – a licensed psychologist who works with men’s sexual issues. He offers a mixed review.
“For men who are highly motivated, the gel might work. But if it requires daily application, that will require a ritualization routine – and that’s not always easy to implement.”
But maybe it doesn’t matter.
Scientist Régine Sitruk-Ware, of the Population Council, a nonprofit helping to sponsor the trial, shared with the MIT Technology Review that the emphasis shouldn’t be on usage. Instead, “this is about gender equity.”
That said, Sitruk-Ware does believe the gel could become popular, particularly for younger guys who want options contraceptive options.
“Men would also like to be able to regulate their own fertility and not be forced into fatherhood,” she said.
If the trial proves successful, it will still take several years before the gel would be available in the marketplace.
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