Several recent scientific papers and conferences have made clear that male hormonal contraception is doable. The most recent paper, by Los Angeles researchers Ron Swerdloff and Christina Wang, says hormonal birth control for men appears to be safe, effective and reversible. The research, published this month in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, reveals that a combination of testosterone and progestin appears to be the most successful way to suppress sperm. But more research remains, Swerdloff says. For example, the effectiveness of the method appears to be higher in certain ethnicities, such as Asian men.
Whether a male birth control method can reach the market any time in the near future is, perhaps, the biggest question. Pharmaceutical companies are needed to step up to the plate to complete large clinical trials, says Swerdloff, chief of the endocrinology division at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Swerdloff and Wang are director and co-director of the government-funded Male Contraceptive Clinical Trial Network Center.
"The concept has been validated," says Swerdloff. "We are convinced that new alternatives for family planning are needed. But a product is not yet ready to go to market."
Why not? Perhaps pharmaceutical companies are on the sidelines because they don't think men are enthusiastic about controlling their own fertility. What do you say, men?
-- Shari Roan