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Medicine Biotech

Male Birth Control Shot Found Effective (bbc.com) 372

An anonymous reader quotes the BBC: A hormone injection has been shown to be a safe and effective method of contraception -- for men. U.S. researchers say the jab was almost 96% effective in tests on around 270 men who were using it, with four pregnancies among their partners. However, a relatively high number developed side effects, including acne and mood disorders... Because men constantly produce sperm, high levels of hormones are needed to reduce levels from the normal sperm count of over 15 million per milliliter to under one million/ml.
One professor pointed out that despite the side effects, "75% of the men who took part in the trial would be willing to use this method of contraception again."
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Male Birth Control Shot Found Effective

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  • by gTsiros ( 205624 ) on Monday October 31, 2016 @02:37AM (#53182301)

    and taking into account the risks (unwanted pregnancy) i'd say 96% effectiveness is really, really horrible.

    Unless i'm mistaken in my interpretation of statistics, this is a complete failure. In this case, i'd like to know the chance that intercourse will lead to pregnangy, using this method (and only this method)

    • It depends... What is the effectiveness of the competing methods?
      • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Monday October 31, 2016 @03:10AM (#53182409)

        It depends... What is the effectiveness of the competing methods?

        Based on the summary, I'd say that despite the side effects, at least 75% of men hate condoms enough to put up with the side effects and the reduced effectiveness.

        So, the real question is...What is the difference in the sexual experience when using competing methods?

        Men have been waiting for quite a long time to lose the latex that has been identified as a rather unfair sexual damper. For anyone who has used condoms, it's rather obvious just how much it reduces sexual pleasure, regardless of technological advances which are often nothing more than sales gimmicks.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Nothing is 100% effective, but if you use two methods the odds against pregnancy are pretty good. Pill + rhythm method works well, but does mean you can't have penetrative sex for a week or two every month.

    • by Tranzistors ( 1180307 ) on Monday October 31, 2016 @02:48AM (#53182343)
      If wikipedia [wikipedia.org] is to be believed. Condom typically fails 18% of the time, in best case it fails 2%. For the pill it is 9% typical case, 0,3%.
      • Those studies are based on typical use. Typical use also includes not using them. The condom itself isn't what fails, it's being someone who uses a condom as the primary birth control mechanism but then not having one with you at all time, and it's just this once anyway so what could possibly going wrong right?

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        It depends how well you use them, which depends mostly on the education available. Putting on the condom properly so it stays on and doesn't break. Getting into a routine taking the pill and acting correctly if you miss a day.

    • It's almost on the same level of real-world effectiveness as the female pill, according to the article on the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/so... [theguardian.com].
    • Unless i'm mistaken in my interpretation of statistics, this is a complete failure

      You are mistaken.

      A complete failure would be either no change to or an increase in the chance of pregnancy over no protection at all. This treatment reduced the risk of pregnancy from 15-30% to 4%.

      This may not be the most effective birth control method ever tested, but it is by no means a complete failure (and it's still in the R&D stage, so the final product may be more effective).

      • So you're saying that a couple having unprotected sex for a year only have a 15-30% chance of pregnancy?

        • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

          That sounds about right, for a general average among people who aren't trying to get pregnant. Pregnancy is less of a sure thing than some would have you believe.

    • Well that is way more effective than what you get with a condom when you factor in how it cannot fall off or rip during use, hell you cannot even forget to bring one. So holistically, it is probably orders of magnitude better at preventing pregnancy.

    • and taking into account the risks (unwanted pregnancy) i'd say 96% effectiveness is really, really horrible.

      Unless i'm mistaken in my interpretation of statistics, this is a complete failure. In this case, i'd like to know the chance that intercourse will lead to pregnangy, using this method (and only this method)

      And you'd be wrong. Assuming they are calculating it the same way as other birth control methods, this is actually really good.
      Going from memory, the standard rate (which I believe is odds in 1 year for a sexually active adult), the effectiveness of birth control is:
      The pill (97% effective, 3% failure rate) i.e. 1 in 33 people who are sexually still active get pregnant every year.
      condom (80% effective, 20% failure rate) i.e. 1 in 5 people who are sexually active still get pregnant every year.
      No birth co

      • by tsqr ( 808554 )

        Going from memory, the standard rate (which I believe is odds in 1 year for a sexually active adult), the effectiveness of birth control is:
        The pill (97% effective, 3% failure rate) i.e. 1 in 33 people who are sexually still active get pregnant every year.
        condom (80% effective, 20% failure rate) i.e. 1 in 5 people who are sexually active still get pregnant every year.
        No birth control (20% effective, 80% failure rate) i.e. 4 in 5 people who are sexual active get pregnant every year.

        So 96% is right up there with the pill and a heck of a lot better than the other male alternatives.

        These numbers [kidshealth.org] are a bit more pessimistic for the pill and condoms. Note that these statistics reflect actual use and not "if it's always used correctly".
        The pill (8/100 couples will get pregnant)
        Condom (18/100 couples will get pregnant)

        The only methods that get down to 1 or fewer preganancies per 100 couples are "emergency contraception" (i.e., morning after pill) and IUD.

    • TFA said the subjects were in monogamous relationship and only used this method of birth control. If your girl was on birth control also or you where whoring around and used condoms then I would say that's not bad.

    • Alternative hypothesis: This method is > 96% effective, and 4% of the study population is not actually in a monogamous relationship.

      I can see why people would be hesitant to put that to the test, but you'd almost need to in order to figure out what caused the 4% failure rate. Was it not the treatment at all, a lapse in administering continued dosage, or some common biology that makes it less effective for some people?
  • 96%!? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 31, 2016 @02:38AM (#53182303)

    That means I'd have 14 babies a year! Not effective at a!!

    • by DaHat ( 247651 )

      Given at most a woman could be pregnant ~3 times during a particular year (and result in a successful birth), perhaps you should limit the # of women you are with to reduce the likelihood of such a number.

      Put a ring on it!

  • This is probably some of the least relevant news I've seen here, and that's really saying something.

    I'm just waiting for someone to wave the "techies are virgin beardos" flag.

    • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Monday October 31, 2016 @03:19AM (#53182433)

      This is probably some of the least relevant news I've seen here, and that's really saying something.

      I'm just waiting for someone to wave the "techies are virgin beardos" flag.

      I believe vehicular analogies are the usual go-to here?

      "When the bus enters the tunnel..."

      *all hands raise*

      "Oh, for fucks sake, you want me to describe what a tunnel is??"

      (OK, maybe you're right.)

  • The sexual liberation movement has finally succeeded, after half a century of effort.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 31, 2016 @03:08AM (#53182405)

    The Worlds press is carrying this story but almost all have missed that the trial has been stopped due to unnacceptable side-effects
    Of the 300+ patients,
    - 1 committed suicide
    - 1 attempted suicide
    - many being treated for clinical depression
    - 8 were left infertile a year after stopping the drug.

    75% may be willing to continue, but not at that cost

    • The Worlds press is carrying this story but almost all have missed that the trial has been stopped due to unnacceptable side-effects Of the 300+ patients, - 1 committed suicide - 1 attempted suicide - many being treated for clinical depression - 8 were left infertile a year after stopping the drug.

      75% may be willing to continue, but not at that cost

      Uh, before you continue to bash this, compare and contrast the results found here with pretty much any other drug that has been approved and on the market today.

      It's downright scary what regulatory agencies find acceptable for the "greater good".

    • And that's in a controlled setting. Imagine what would happen in the real world where thousands of men kill themselves every single month.

    • by Trachman ( 3499895 ) on Monday October 31, 2016 @06:20AM (#53182927) Journal

      1 suicide within the trial? That is a success. 100% contraception success.
      This one will sure not be able to procreate anymore.

  • Uhhh.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kokuyo ( 549451 ) on Monday October 31, 2016 @03:45AM (#53182497) Journal

    So haven't we learned from the pill that fucking with a body's hormone levels has a certain tendency to lead to bad things and that it gets worse at higher levels?

    Is the intention here to hit equality by making men as miserable as women?

    • No we haven't learnt that because hormone aren't linked one way or another to bad or good things. This is why there are a variety of pills each with different side effects. If someone you know becomes miserable on the pill then she should think of switching to another.

    • I think what we've learned is that the majority of the population is so child-averse that they're willing to deal with these side effects. That makes me happy, because I thought most people were so selfish that they were happy to populate the world with unwanted offspring and wouldn't undergo even minor discomfort to avoid it.

      Granted, for a percentage of the population, the discomfort is greater than minor. I understand why they don't want to use birth control. If more of us used it, they would gain the nea

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by StormReaver ( 59959 )

      The secondary headline from this study is, "75% of men who participated in this study are fucking morons." This contraceptive has horrendous side effects, but some people are too stupid to care.

      What I find even more remarkable is that the moron who wrote this story, despite the severe side effects, still uses the term, "safe and effective." Hmm...where else have we heard this bullshit phrase?

    • No. The intention here is to make a profit by fulfilling a consumer demand that is currently unfulfilled. There are men who would like a form of birth control like this (preferably without side effects, of course).

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      It varies from individual to individual. For some women they take it to reduce the effects of the menstrual cycle, from the very start of puberty. It's just another option, and hopefully they can develop this discovery into something with fewer side effects given time.

      As with most things it's a trade-off. It could be extremely liberating for men.

    • No, we haven't learned that because it's barely true. Most women are mostly happy with the pill, once they've found the right one. They're happy to have control over their periods, and they're very happy to have control over their reproductive capabilities. Yes, there are some negative aspects, but the majority of women appear to accept them in exchange for the positive side.

      Now, in fairness, for men the stakes are a little lower. Our bodies will not be out of commission for nine months as a result of mi

  • by LoneTech ( 117911 ) on Monday October 31, 2016 @03:51AM (#53182511) Homepage

    There's certainly no reporting bias here - among 270 men in the trials, 11 simply didn't reach the chosen threshold of 1/15th normal sperm count in six months, 8 didn't recover within a year after stopping the treatment, 20 dropped out because of side effects while many more reported them (to the degree they stopped taking on new participants - back in 2011), 4 achieved pregnancies within a year while under the chosen threshold. All durations reported are in "up to" form, and the fertility of their partners was not indicated (around 10% have issues while trying, per womenshealth.gov). Only 66-69 of them (by somebody's rounding) stated they would refuse to ever attempt the method again, "so perhaps the side-effects weren't all that bad after all" according to Alan Pacey (whose connection to the study was left unclear). It's unclear if this was before or after they learned of how well other subjects did. The article also carefully describes the women only as "partners", despite heterosexuality being quite relevant to the study. The journalist went with "safe and effective", quoting "extremely effective" also from Allan Pacey, while not addressing the "need for ... reversible" part. I'm mildly curious where the "safe" came from.

    The worst part? Compared to regularly used hormonal treatments for women, this probably is "safe".

  • "researchers say the jab was almost 96% effective in tests"

    Well, shit, that's four pregnancies for every hundred copulations; I wouldn't call a four-percent failure rate "effective". I'd call it a sure thing. It's like Russian Roulette with orgasms.

    I mean, if an airplane had a "successful" landing rate of 96%, would you fly on it?

    To put it another way, would you eat at a restaurant where four out of every hundred people got sick from the food? I wouldn't.

    A 4% failure rate is nothing to brag about. It's bett

  • So guy and girl are on their third date, they're on the cusp of sex and the girl says she's not on the pill and the guy says "It's OK, I'm on the shot".

    Does she believe him? I'm guessing no, she doesn't, and this is what kills a "male pill" from a usage perspective. It's the women who get pregnant and ultimately bear the risk of pregnancy so what will make them believe a guy is telling the truth?

    Some might say a vasectomy is the same thing, but most men don't get one until they're older and have had kids,

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      the same credibility problem that exist for the female pill? and a women has a choice if she gets pregnant, the man doesn't. If she doesn't want a baby she can have an abortion he can't prevent that, if she wants a baby and he doesn't he will have to pay child support for the next 18 years he can't get out of that

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        the same credibility problem that exist for the female pill? and a women has a choice if she gets pregnant, the man doesn't. If she doesn't want a baby she can have an abortion he can't prevent that, if she wants a baby and he doesn't he will have to pay child support for the next 18 years he can't get out of that

        Well, there's multiple levels of credibility happening here and a lot depends on the nature of the relationship.

        In hookup-type situations, how does a woman even know the details of the man she's having sex with are real? You have to have enough details/info about the person to go down the child support path. If it was a one-night-stand type situation, she may have a bogus name or no contact info.

        My sense is this pushes the risk factor for women to the point that "oh, I can just get child support" isn't re

    • by goose-incarnated ( 1145029 ) on Monday October 31, 2016 @07:15AM (#53183125) Journal

      So guy and girl are on their third date, they're on the cusp of sex and the girl says she's not on the pill and the guy says "It's OK, I'm on the shot".

      Does she believe him?

      Who cares? Seriously, if she doesn't want a kid she should refuse sex unless she is on the (female) pill. Males won't be taking this pill to convince a woman to have sex with them, they'd be taking this pill to prevent the woman from getting pregnant.

      IOW, they won't be lying "trust me, I'm on the pill", they'd be lying "of course I think we're ready for a baby".

      Currently the ability to produce/prevent a pregnancy via deception is only available to females. A male pill would give that same ability to males (produce/prevent a pregnancy via deception).

      Can you imagine what would happen if males could string along a woman with "we've been trying for a year"? When males get to lie about trying for a pregnancy?

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        Depending on how serious you were about it, you could probably get a vasectomy and simply get judged sterile and solve the problem permanently. Even if an exam by a doctor turned up evidence of a vasectomy, I think privacy rules alone would prevent the woman from finding out.

        And I think males may be able to fake their orgasms, too. I dated a woman who related a previous boyfriend who was really anti-abortion. She was on the pill, but she said she was pretty certain he didn't orgasm most of the time and s

        • Depending on how serious you were about it, you could probably get a vasectomy and simply get judged sterile and solve the problem permanently.

          That doesn't solve the problem, which is male who wants to have sex with many females but is selective about who gets to actually bear his children. The vasectomy prevents the male from having any children at all.

          Deception is a large part of the female reproductive strategy for most animals (humans included). I foresee problems when it becomes an option for a male strategy as well.

    • by Shados ( 741919 )

      Still useful though: the guy might not beleive the girl she's on the pill either. Or have some doubt. Or you could be using a condom which may break sometimes.

      96% effectiveness isn't really good enough to be the only thing you use, but it's a nice backup.

    • So a guy and gal* are on their third date, they're on the cusp of sex and the guy says she's not on the pill and the gal says "It's OK, I'm on the shot".

      Does he believe her?

      This is what happens now.

      And if the guy was on the pill, and the gal was too, then this conversation wouldn't be happening. But right now the guy can't be, so we can't eliminate the ability of both partners to prevent something unwanted from happening nearly as effectively as we'd otherwise be able to do. (Sure, the guy can put

      • . (Sure, the guy can put on a condom, but by doing so he'd be telling the gal he doesn't trust her by default, which perhaps he might try to explain away with an even more awkward discussion about STDs, either way ruining the mood.)

        Actually it is perfectly normal to use a condom to further decrease the odds of pregnancy. My gf was on the pill and I used condoms. Trust has nothing to do with it.

  • At the time she went on birth control, my wife had undiagnosed celiac disease on top of the MTHFR C677T defect. Her methyation cycle has never been the same since. She’s an extreme case, but messing with your hormones is risky for anyone.

  • by Pseudonymous Powers ( 4097097 ) on Monday October 31, 2016 @08:28AM (#53183467)

    In females, hormonal birth control mostly works by tricking the body into thinking it's already pregnant. For humans, it's a significant evolutionary advantage not to become double or triple pregnant, so the body does most of the work for you. It's fairly "natural" because you're basically just reproducing a situation that the female body is designed for.

    For males, though, there's no evolutionary reason to ever stop producing sperm. So any cocktail of hormones that shuts off fertility in males has not been through those same millions of years of QA. So I would want to see at least a couple more decades of testing on this before injecting it into my body.

    Experience has taught me to be very skeptical of the pharmaceutical industry, so I also can't help but wonder if researchers are saying it's safe only because they, for example, consider a 15% occurrence of male breast enlargement and/or lactation an acceptable side effect.

  • by Charcharodon ( 611187 ) on Monday October 31, 2016 @09:51AM (#53183977)
    Also discovered in the study that 4 women were cheating on their partners.

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