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Medicine Science

Reliable Male Contraceptive In the Works 519

Hugh Pickens writes "The BBC reports that recent tests in China indicate a monthly injection of testosterone, which works by temporarily blocking sperm production, could be as effective at preventing pregnancies as the female pill or condoms. In trials in China only one man in 100 fathered a child while on the injections, and six months after stopping the injections the mens' sperm counts returned to normal. The lead researcher said that if further tests proved successful, the treatment could become widely available in five years' time. Previous attempts to develop an effective and convenient male contraceptive have encountered problems over reliability and side effects, such as mood swings and a lowered sex drive. However, despite the injection having no serious side effects, almost a third of the 1,045 men in the two-and-a-half year study did not complete the trials; no reason was given for this."
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Reliable Male Contraceptive In the Works

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  • by powerlord ( 28156 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:10AM (#27843821) Journal

    ... almost a third of the 1,045 men in the two-and-a-half year study did not complete the trials; no reason was given for this."

    however their recent child support filings may lend a clue.

    • by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:15AM (#27843861) Journal

      Actually, if I remember correctly, excess testosterone gets converted into estrogen doesn't it?

      I suspect those that stopped... Didn't like man boobs.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:31AM (#27844005)

        The real news here is the medical breakthrough hidden by the researchers: the 1/3 of the men that quit the treatment did so because they got pregnant.

      • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @10:25AM (#27845347)

        1) testosterone shots are painful
        2) testosterone converts to estrogen (http://www.naturodoc.com/library/hormones/masculine.htm) ...The enzyme called aromatase works naturally to convert testosterone into estrogen. ... Fat cells contribute a great amount of aromatase, and many nutrient deficiencies can also produce higher levels.
        3) having more testosterone lowers your natural production (so going off of it can be a bitch)
        4) having excess testosterone can make you more aggressive, angrier (rage), less happy but...
        5) having insufficient testosterone can make you more emotional, angrier(fear), sleep poorly, less happy, anxious (free floating anxiety), loss of lust, loss of happiness, lost of performance when you do have lust.

        I've been on HRT for a few years now. Having a level of about 600 makes me feel like I am 10 years younger plus the andropause symptoms went away within a week of starting supplementation. There are currently two expensive rub on versions (Testim - oil based and Androgel - alchohol based), a ton of compounded rub on versions, and shots.

        Shots produce a much stronger cycle (too high for a few days, then normal for a couple weeks, then too low for a few days before your next shot).
        I've read the shots are painful after you get them (the testosterone hurts inside you). It's not agony and tons of guys do get the shots (much less expensive than the rub-on approach) but the getting shots sucks, and then if it hurts after you get the shot that would suck more.

        I apparently had low testosterone most of my life even before i was in my 40's since I furred out big time once I went on it.
        I play a lot of boardgames and losing them pisses me off more than it used to so that is a downside. I didn't used to care.

        A LOT of males have low testosterone starting at 43-- some earlier. It's an easy test to get. HRT is usually a one-way trip. You go on it and are on it until you show signs of prostate cancer (which estrogen is like gasoline on a fire for).

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by kiltros02 ( 1197045 )
          I bet the rub on version would have a pretty high success rate.... say no more, say no more.
        • by Deagol ( 323173 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @12:40PM (#27847419) Homepage

          A LOT of males have low testosterone starting at 43-- some earlier. It's an easy test to get.

          So yet another natural progression of the aging process has become an illness to be cured?!? What a messed up world we live in. :(

          News flash for all you ladies and gents out there... you were never meant to look/feel/act in your forties (and beyond) as you did in your teens and twenties. You'll be slower, weaker, more passive (less aggressive), less beautiful/handsome (by pop media standards, of course), hairier, more wrinkled, less mentally sharp, slower to heal, harder of sight and hearing, and you won't have sex like rabbits. These are generalizations, of course.

          It's one thing to help you along as you age (glasses, hearing aids, canes, etc.), but this ever-growing trend in trying to dodge time's arrow every step of the way (cosmetic surgery, perpetual drug regiments, etc.) is sad commentary on a society that supposedly believes in an afterlife. Enjoy your life, in all its stages, then move along -- this world was never meant to be your home forever.

          • by Fred Ferrigno ( 122319 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @01:45PM (#27848477)

            you were never meant to look/feel/act in your forties (and beyond) as you did in your teens and twenties.

            We were never "meant" to receive organ transplants either. The entire field of medicine is basically devoted to opposing to the natural course of life. Hell, most of human history is devoted to that goal.

            Eventually, we're going to figure out how to forestall aging and death indefinitely. I don't expect that will happen soon enough for me, but if it does, I'll be the first in line. You'll be free to die happy, secure in the knowledge that you lived only as you were meant to (in front of a computer screen).

        • by Have Brain Will Rent ( 1031664 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @01:19PM (#27848039)
          Gasoline on a fire will actually put it out if you throw enough on that the liquid gasoline smothers the fire before it becomes gaseous and is ignited in air. But I suspect that you meant that oestrogen make prostate cancer grow rapidly - that is untrue and in fact oestrogen used to be used as a treatment for prostate cancer but it had undesirable side effects.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostate_cancer#Prevention [wikipedia.org] has more info.

          The wrong levels of testosterone (high or low) will indeed make one more emotionally volatile and have other bad effects. Injecting testosterone will lower natural production and can make the testes change noticeably. Testosterone injection is intra-muscular and I would expect that the reason most users complain is that 1) they puncture the skin too slowly (it stretches and hurts) rather than using a controlled jab, and 2) they inject too quickly. Liquid testosterone is about the consistency of liquid honey... forcing that into a bunch of muscle fibres at a high rate probably damages them, and 3) because it is thick you use a fairly large diameter needle. Testosterone is available in pill form but it is apparently harder on the liver to take it this way.

          Testosterone deficiency can be caused by a lot of things, including sleep apnea which can screw up your endocrine system in general - if one snores a lot it may be worth getting checked out. OTOH exercise can increase natural levels.

          I am not a doctor.
    • by JamesP ( 688957 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:36AM (#27844047)

      I'd bet on 'not wanting to be repeatedly poked with a giant needle'

      I remember seeing videos of some trials, it was really scary.

      (was very afraid of needles, now so, so, still, not 'omg I'm getting a shot this is so cool!!')

    • by SausageOfDoom ( 930370 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:43AM (#27844101)

      Irrelevant - any good journalist knows that 33% is statistically insignificant...

      It really frustrates me whenever the media do a science story, especially one regarding medicine. In their desperation to focus on the human angle and "won't anybody think of the children" - and of course, increase number of readers - they completely ignore any basic scientific analysis.

      A classic example was the MMR-gives-you-autism scare - they make a sensational headline from a report without investigating the background of Wakefield (the author who made the public statement that started it - he received money from lawyers trying to build a case), without giving any consideration to the statistical significance of his findings (the paper looked at 12 patients), and completely ignoring the fact that the paper said it couldn't link MMR to autism. Even though it has now been proven that there is no link, the doubt lives on in the public mind.

      Perhaps this is due to scientific journalists having no real understanding of science. Perhaps they do, but have a better understanding of how their job depends on selling a story. Either way, they must take more responsibility for their power over the public.

      Returning to the MMR story, Wakefield has been widely discredited and hauled in front of the GMC and could be struck off. Meanwhile, what has happened to the journalists who built the story into the frenzy that led to measles and mumps outbreaks in the UK? Nothing - they're still writing stories like this.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by pavon ( 30274 )

        Returning to the MMR story, Wakefield has been widely discredited and hauled in front of the GMC and could be struck off.

        Well I guess that's better than being hauled behind a GMC.

    • by MoxFulder ( 159829 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @12:01PM (#27846839) Homepage

      ... I doubt that women will accept it.

      Even if it has no side effects and if men are able to accept the stigma of being temporarily infertile, I expect that women won't trust this treatment.

      Just think about it: who bears most of the risk in case of pregnancy? Women. It might be unjust, but in most societies, men can walk away and abandon women they've gotten pregnant easily without serious social stigma or financial repercussions. Women either have to get an abortion (stigmatized, traumatic, and in many places illegal/expensive/dangerous) or raise a child alone (stigmatized/expensive/time-consuming).

      With the pill or condoms, women are either controlling the birth control themselves, or can verify its use on-the-spot. With male contraceptive injections/pills,

      I foresee a big problem with women not trusting that men are really taking this. Heck, in the pilot study 1/3 of the men just stopped taking it for no apparent reason!!

      • If you get her pregnant, you pay child support. It doesn't matter how you get her pregnant. Even if her friends hold you down so she can hop on top and rape you, you still pay child support. Even if she fishes your used condom out of a dumpster near your apartment and uses it to get pregnant, you still pay child support.

        Seriously: guys lose in court ALL THE TIME. There is zero defense if it is your kid.

        It's crazy enough to trust a condom that you personally buy, protect from damage (keeping it in sight at a

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Chris Burke ( 6130 )

          Considering that their result is better than condoms (1% vs 2% if always used and used correctly which the evidence suggests isn't as easy as it sounds), and that it would be a contraceptive controlled by the male, then I would think this would be worth trusting at least as much as a condom. Even if you assume the statistics make it a wash, this is still better than a condom, because as you note the semen in a condom is still potent and can be retrieved (or spill etc), while the whole point of this pill is

  • quit rate... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:12AM (#27843835)
    2.5 years of *injections* and 1/3 did not complete the term of the trials. Not surprising. Make it in pill form and you may have a higher completion rate...
  • Huh? (Score:4, Funny)

    by lars_boegild_thomsen ( 632303 ) <lth@cDEGASow.dk minus painter> on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:13AM (#27843841) Homepage Journal

    And this story was posted to /. why?

  • 1% ! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bibz ( 849958 ) <seb2004NO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:13AM (#27843843)

    1% got pregnant, that seems pretty high for contraceptive. It would have to be used with other means

    I stand corrected, the pill is 92-99.7% effective, about 5% of couples will get pregnant. So it seems this way is pretty darn effective.

    • Assuming no user error, and over 10% for real life usage.

    • Re:1% ! (Score:4, Informative)

      by Strilanc ( 1077197 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:32AM (#27844013)

      A 1% pregnancy rate over two and a half years actually sounds very effective. I don't know the rates for other protection methods, or even unprotected, but I know they're not as good as 99% (in practice) over 2.5 years.

      But 1/3 of the sample dropping out is not very promising. Side effects? Cherry picking? Guess we'll find out later.

    • Re:1% ! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sukotto ( 122876 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:52AM (#27844201)

      The once a month injection is a deal-killer for me though.

      • Deal breaker!?!? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @09:37AM (#27844737) Journal

        Man oh man - if you think that a teenie needle injection once a mnth is a hassle wait until you have CHILDREN! From waking up every 2 hours 24 hours a day to decimating the order of your household, children make a stupid shot seem just... stupid.

        Tell you what: don't worry about the needle. Just have good, natural sex, the way nature intended. Wait a few years, and then tell me if a shot is really a big deal!

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by sukotto ( 122876 )

          I have 2 kids under 5 and my wife's been hinting that number three might be on its way.

          So yeah... I know all about that.


    • Re:1% ! (Score:4, Informative)

      by forand ( 530402 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @09:10AM (#27844425) Homepage
      The percent effective you quote is for real life use NOT laboratory use. There is a rather large difference. The number you quote rolls in people not remembering to take the pill at all or on time while the number quoted in the study likely only includes those people who had their injects regularly.
    • Re:1% ! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @09:17AM (#27844503) Homepage

      A vasectomy is more effective.

      what is it with wacked out guys that refuse to get one because "I'm less of a man If I do that"...

      Are most guys that uneducated or dumb? If you do not want any children, get the fricking snip and get it over with. your life is better snipped!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by freaker_TuC ( 7632 )

        A vasectomy is more effective.

        Did you had that nickname before or after the vasectomy?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      But what does 1% mean? 1% chance of getting pregnant per time? I mean sex with no contraception isn't 100%, not sure what the odds are assuming both people are fertile, but I'd guess less than 10%. The problem is you take a lot of chances and eventually your number gets called. That is why I'm an advocate double condom with spermicide-pill- IUD, and diapragm withdrawal method.

      Also, I wonder how many more pregnancies will happen if this becomes popular. I mean a one night stand the girl knows whether or no

  • by denominateur ( 194939 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:14AM (#27843849) Homepage

    And as a useful side-effect, those pesky testicles will shrink and get out of the way.

  • I know of a 100% guaranteed method. :)
    • Re:Only 99% (Score:4, Funny)

      by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:17AM (#27843887) Homepage Journal

      Me too. Keep a picture of Janet Reno in your wallet.
      That's as close to a 100% effective prophylactic as you can get.

    • So do I. My ex girlfriends best friend.

      You'd look at this woman and not have interest in anything for a month.

      But, a month after seeing here, and all of a sudden, cute gals are once again cute.

    • Re:Only 99% (Score:5, Funny)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:28AM (#27843989)

      So do I, but that's unfortunately no solution for the heterosexuals amongst us.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by scubamage ( 727538 )
      FALCON PUNCH!?!?!?!?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by griffjon ( 14945 )

      You know, I practice abstinence. I practice it more than anything else - 20+ hours EVERY DAY I practice it, but still it doesn't work for me.

      It's those other hours that I'm not practicing -- steep drop off effects.

      IIRC, IANAD, but the 99% effective rating is not a per-encounter rating, but for a year of usage - i.e. 99% effective means that among 100 couples using it as their only form of birth control, 1 couple will conceive over the course of that year. Them's the breaks, and why it's usually a good ide

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:14AM (#27843855) Homepage

    But where is the male morning after pill?

  • Bad science (Score:4, Interesting)

    by forand ( 530402 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:15AM (#27843859) Homepage
    When researchers don't address a loss of a 3rd of their sample they are not doing their job. Something is fishy from that end.

    Also who wants only a 1/100 chance of NOT getting your SO pregnant? For most Americans that would be on the order of once year (assuming the women is only fertile for a few days a month).
  • So, instead of wearing a condom (which also protects wearer from STDs) guys will start taking monthly medical appointments so he can be pricked with a needle?

    Riiiight... I can so see that happening.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Well, in this initial prototype, yes. Eventually when they get it in the water supply, you won't notice a thing. Does that thought depress you? Don't worry about that; the lithium in the water will curb those feelings of desire for suicide.

      I'm going to take the tinfoil hat off now.
    • Spoken like someone who has never worn a condom.

    • by daybot ( 911557 ) *

      Dude you've got it all wrong. It's much easier for the Chinese government to inject contraceptives while you sleep than it is to sneak a condom on you every time you have sex.

    • I'd assume that the use case is similar to the female equivalent. Physical barrier methods are great for dating purposes, cheap, effective, substantially mitigate the risk of disease transmission; but for people in the "longer term; but not spawning a crop of brats longer term" phase, something like this would make more sense.

      People generally dislike physical barrier methods, when they can avoid them, and people generally suck at using them correctly when they are otherwise distracted(which is precisely
  • I'd be willing to take a pill everyday, but I HATE needles. I'll just stick with condoms for now.

    Not that one ought to just whip it out if you're on these injections anyhow - I'm pretty sure they can't block disease like a condom can.

  • [This information witheld by government officials], male contraceptives are not for everyone, consult your physician if the [Information available on official request] outbreaks last for more than thirty hours at a time or result in [censored].

    Oh yeah, I'm reassured now.

  • Are they fucking serious? If injecting yourself with testosterone in any amount was safe every gym rat on the planet would already be doing it, AND SO WOULD EVERYBODY ELSE.

    There is no way that the long term effects are acceptable.

  • by new death barbie ( 240326 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:23AM (#27843943)

    "almost a third of the 1,045 men in the two-and-a-half year study did not complete the trials; no reason was given for this"

    Nobody told them WHERE the injection goes.

  • Bodybuilders well know that after testosterone is discontinued you will have man's breasts in no time.
    Well, after that you of course won't need to have females to play with titties.
    No, thanks.

  • After they fucked with women's hormones for decades, in the process fucking up many a life, they now turn their eyes on us?

    Well, thanks, but I'll keep using condoms during the time my wife is fertile, thank you very much.

  • by benwiggy ( 1262536 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:37AM (#27844057)
    "Have you got any protection?"

    "Don't sweat it, babe, I've had the injection. Honest."

    "Oh, OK, then. On you go."

  • It's called Neem [wikipedia.org] oil, and the Indian military ran a one-year trial without side effects or pregnancies. The reason you're not going to see any Neem-based contraceptives go through the FDA process is that so far attempts to control it have been largely unsuccessful [pbs.org].

    Next week, we'll talk about olive leaf extract...

    • Your affusively swenstionalist article points to the existence of neem oil as a pesticide, and apparently a fairly good one (doesn't make me want to drink it btw) but does not mention at all any trials by the Indian military or it's effectiveness. The much less evangelical Neem wiki and the neem entry at drugs.com mention many medical uses, mostly for skin diseases in traditional medicine, and food additives, but makes no mention of male contraception. Female contraception tests in animals are mentioned b

  • by Hogwash McFly ( 678207 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:50AM (#27844177)

    In trials in China only one man in 100 fathered a child while on the injections,

    But was that child actually his and not the postman's or milkman's (or whatever the Chinese cultural equivalent is)?

  • by value_added ( 719364 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:50AM (#27844179)

    Quoth the article:

    Family planning campaigners welcomed the news and said they hoped an injection would give couples more choice and enable men to take a greater share of the responsibility for contraception.

    Now assuming that "family planning campaigners" are predominantly female (a fair and perfectly reasonable assumption), contrast the above with the following opinion from fertility expert Mr. Laurence Shaw:

    "It would empower men to make a decision which involves more than just a condom. At the moment the onus is on the woman and men do not have that much choice.

    The difference in both perspective and opinion is somewhere between funny and tragic. If you're a woman, the former is most true (men are all-powerful and don't need any "empowerment"). If you're a man who's been involved in custody or child support proceedings, it's likely that you've been made painfully aware that the notion of men's rights is routinely ignored, dismissed as unecessary, or taken away in a gesture of deference to the "weaker" sex.

  • But would they come? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RyoShin ( 610051 ) <(tukaro) (at) (gmail.com)> on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @10:38AM (#27845559) Homepage Journal

    Ignoring the problems pointed out in other posts, would those males who should be taking it actually do so? Even if it was a patch, I'd think that normal male thought in the populations where this contraception should really be embraced would declare that decreasing your sperm count would make you "less of a man" or "less potent". Essentially it's the same people who refuse to use condoms who need this kind of thing the most, and they'll refuse to use it as well until something drastic happens.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Archon-X ( 264195 )

      I'd be all over this.
      If you're in a long term relationship, and your partner can't find a suitable contraceptive medicine that doesn't fuck with her mood/skin/weight/mental stability, you'll quickly realise that condoms pretty much strip almost every pleasure from intercourse possible: from physicality to intimacy and spontaneity.

      Having the option, and or added peace of mind of the guy, or both parties being on contraception would be quite refreshing.

    • by Uberbah ( 647458 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @12:43PM (#27847469)

      Right now, women have all reproductive rights and choices (abortion) while men only have responsibilities (18 years of child support).

      Say you have 17 year old fraternal twins, a boy and a girl, and both of them conceive with their respective girlfriend/boyfriend. You can tell your girl that legally she has the right to

      • Have an abortion without the father's knowledge or permission
      • Give the baby up for adoption without the father's knowledge or permission
      • Raise the baby in secret and never tell the father
      • Raise the baby in secret, and then go after the father for child support years later when he has no chance of gaining custody

      Whereas your conversation with your son will go more like this:

      • Sorry son, but 9 months of her life trumps 18 years of your life
      • Your only "right" was the right not to have sex, now deal with the consequences (though this never applies to the woman for some reason)
      • You can spend a vast sum of money suing for custody if 1-4 above don't happen

      The Male Pill will finally give men the same control over conception that women have, if not the same rights & choices after conception happens.

  • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted@slashdot ... minus physicist> on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @11:03AM (#27845949)

    ...it will have *absolutely no changes on the character of the person*, to have periodical injections of hormones into the body.

    Yeah right.

    This might be a wild guess, as I have no proof, but the correlation between the anti-baby-pill and and the rise of feminism is pretty disturbing...
    Mind you that I am a strong defender of equal rights (the intonation is on "rights"), as I have never understood why there were different rights in the first place. It just makes no sense. So I thing it was great that they stopped accepting that shit.

    What was not that great, was that women themselves somehow acted, as if some female *qualities* were something bad that they needed to fight.
    We're *not* the same. We share similarities, and have differences. And it is perfectly fine this way.
    Women for example just love different things than men. If we like to build machines, and they like to care for people, then why force us into the opposite, just to be "equal"?
    Or to think further: If you force anything into something, to fight being forced into something, something is very wrong.

    One thing that comes to mind, is that those pills simulate being pregnant. And if you know how most animals act when they are pregnant... I mean things like wild cats chasing huge bears up into the trees, and small critters attacking you because you are too close, you know that this state makes one very defensive. Which is just right when there are kids to protect. But without kids very likely misdirected.

    So what I really would like to know is: What are the real effects on the psyche of a woman, when she is on that stuff. Because I would really hate to know, that my GF is sad or angry for no reason (according to herself), just because of that stuff. I could not do that to her, just for sex. At least I would take my share of it. And ideally, nobody would have to.

    • by Bobb9000 ( 796960 ) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @12:07PM (#27846925)
      I think the issue is that not *all* men like to build machines, and not *all* women want to care for people. They may tend to distribute themselves that way statistically, but that doesn't mean there aren't many on each side who feel differently.

      I agree that we shouldn't try so very hard to force people into things, but the fact is that we've had a long history where people either weren't allowed to try or were shunned for trying to do a job that didn't fit their "gender role". It makes some sense to try to counteract that cultural trend. It can, of course, and often has, been taken too far.

      The birth control pill is known to have an effect on some women's moods and personality. I don't think that that even comes close to an justification for feminism being basically just women on drugs. Changes in life values are not a typical result. Messing with anyone's hormones can be a problem, but it's an issue of acceptable risk and harm. Being able to control fertility is crucial the the kind of society and environment I want to live in. I think many women feel the same.

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin