Friday, May 22, 2009

Don't get too excited over the latest male pill

The male pill appeared to move a step closer this week with the publication of results of a study in China of a hormone-based contraceptive that lowers sperm count. But as that trial moves to Manchester, we shouldn't get too excited too quickly.

The Chinese trial involved men having hormone injections in the backside. The high drop out rate - 312 out of 1045 volunteers (or nearly 30%) - will have women wondering once again whether men can really be trusted to handle any contraception requiring more forward-planning than the condom. Certainly, it's hard to see how monthly jabs in hubby's backside would work for more than a handful of couples as a long-term form of contraception.

Given the amount of booze, tobacco and crap food we shovel down our throats, doctors may find this hard to believe but men do worry about what they put in their bodies. Men will, rightly, be concerned about how long it takes for sperm counts to return to normal once the contraceptive is stopped. For most men it took around 200 days but 17 men still hadn't recovered their fertility after a year. Most men won't want to take that risk. Nor, indeed, will most couples - it's tough enough trying for a baby without having to wait six months for hubby to stop firing blanks.

Yes, despite the enthusiasm we're still a good way yet from an effective male contraceptive.

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