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Male Birth Control Pills Reversible After Few Months - Men's Contraceptive Study Concerning Hormone Treatment to Prevent Sperm Production

April 28th 2006

Male Birth Control Pills Reversible After Few Months - Men's Contraceptive Study Concerning Hormone Treatment to Prevent Sperm Production


Male contraceptive pills have been available in clinical trials for some time now and there is now evidence that sperm recovery can be obtained within three or four months.  Research published in this weeks journal The Lancet, highlight the fact that male hormone treatment for contraception can be reversed in just a few months. 

This is especially good news for men who are sexually active and do not want children.  Other male contraceptive methods are either not sufficiently reliable or not easily reversible.  In a similar way to ovulation suppression by hormone treatment in women, sperm production can be fully inhibited by androgen or androgen-progestagen treatment combinations in men. With such hormone treatment, azoospermia (i.e. no sperm in ejaculate) or severe oligozoospermia (or less than 3 million sperm per milliliter of semen), which is sufficient for contraception. 


The researchers analyzed data from 30 studies published between 1990 and 2005.  These studies monitored sperm output every month until recovery. 

They found that the average time for sperm recovery (20 million per milliliter) was 3 - 4 months.  Peter Liu from the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed), who is currently located at the ANZAC Research Institute, University of Sydney, Australia, and colleagues, conducted the research.  They consider 20 million sperm per milliliters an indicator of fertility.


Data were available for around 1500 men.  There were variations in the recovery time.  Reasons for higher rates of recover include older age, Asian origin, shorter treatment duration, and higher sperm concentrations at baseline. Although the speed of recovery varied, all of the men experienced spermatogenesis recovery.  The researchers said “Our data provide strong assurance that the previously described efficacy of hormonal male contraceptives is coupled with highly predictable recovery to semen characteristics that are compatible with fertility. These findings thereby increase the promise of new contraceptive drugs allowing men to share more fairly the satisfaction and burden of family planning."

There are currently two large scales studies being conducted.  A phase III study with an androgen treatment and a large, multi-center phase II study of androgen-progestagen combinations are being completed in China and Europe, respectively. 

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By Dan Wilson
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