The method is expected to be more effective than condoms.
It’s finally time for men to try their hand at using a hormonal contraceptive. That’s right, soon you might be able to ditch your pill and put that tenner a month to something of good use, like a cocktail after work or an extra side in Nandos.
A male contraceptive gel is being trialled to test its effectiveness in the UK for the next year. The Guardian reports that the gel, called NES/T, is a hormone-based treatment, similar to the female pill, that’s designed to reduce sperm production without affecting libido.
The gel contains progestogen, which acts on the brain’s pituitary gland to switch off sperm production. Because progestogen can also have negative side effects in men due to a drop in testosterone, the gel also contains testosterone to counter-balance those effects.
Eighty men in Manchester and Edinburgh will use the gel daily as their sole form of contraception for a year as part of a clinical trial to assess how effective it is at preventing pregnancy and whether the side-effects are acceptable.
Men will be given the gel in a small pot, which includes a pump to administer a specified dose. The gel is rubbed into the shoulders and upper arms daily and the men will attend monthly clinics to monitor their sperm count. Once the sperm count has dropped to almost zero, which is expected to take a few months, couples will use the gel as their sole contraceptive and be followed for more than a year.
The method is expected to be more effective than condoms, which are about 82% effective. If the trial is successful, there is likely to be interest in developing the gel as a commercial product.
There is currently no hormonal contraceptive on the market for men, so if all goes well, this will mean both men and women will be able to take equal responsibility for contraception.
Many women struggle to find a hormonal contraceptive that works for them, so here’s hoping the male gel goes to plan and we can get working on one for the gals.