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Development of new male birth control gel would give couples more options

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Posted at 12:01 PM, Dec 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-23 17:04:58-05

Options for male birth control could soon be expanding.

Researchers at the University of Washington are testing a male hormonal contraceptive gel.

It contains synthetic hormones that signal the brain to lower testosterone to produce fewer sperm.

"It's a gel that is sort of the consistency of hand sanitizer. Men use an actuation pump, and they put one pump on each shoulder and they rub it in wash their hands, and we monitor their sperm count during the study, and they and their partner ultimately rely on the gel as their method of contraception," Stephanie Page of the UW Medicine Diabetes Institute.

Men currently have two effective options for birth control, condoms and vasectomy.

Researchers hope more options will allow couples to treat contraception as a shared responsibility.

"For example, you can imagine a couple initially, she may be on the pill, or maybe they're using condoms at the beginning, and then she decides to go on the pill or have an IUD, and then they decide they want to conceive, and then they have their first child, and they're thinking about having another one, and it's like well, he takes his turn then, and he uses this for a couple of years," Page said.

Side effects for the gel were similar to side effects for women on hormonal birth control. They include weight gain and mood swings.

Researchers estimate it will be another seven to 10 years before the gel hits the market.