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A male contraceptive pill has passed safety tests and could be available within a decade

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Megan Murray
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Research has previously suggested that a male contraceptive pill could be on the cards, but this is the most promising advancement we’ve seen yet. 

When it comes to reproduction, there’s no denying that women have pulled the short straw.

There’s the monthly bleeding and those delightful cramps to look forward to, oh and then having to birth a small human out of your body – it feels like as far as populating the earth goes, men could stand to do a little more.

But another of the many crosses women are most likely to bear when it comes to this subject, is being responsible for contraception, too. 

There are a huge number of female contraceptives on the market compared to those aimed at men, which pushes the emphasis on women, and one of the most common precautions used is the pill.

Not only does it feel like a responsibility unfairly doled out to one gender and is, let’s face it, a pain in the arse to take everyday – it can also have some pretty nasty side effects, too.

Acne, headaches, mood swings: they’re all part and parcel for some women who take the contraceptive pill and we’ve wondered many times before why we should have to mess with our body’s hormones to enjoy pregnancy protected sex. 

Male contraceptive pill

Well, in some exciting news, it seems that the medical world is finally waking up to the unbalanced contraceptive market. Researchers have announced that a new male contraceptive pill is through initial rounds of testing and have predicted it could be widely usable in the next decade.

Time Magazine reports that the announcement was made at the annual Endocrine Society meeting by the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute and the University of Washington, who said the pill has been tested on 30 men so far and did not show major side effects.

Working in a similar way to the female contraception pill it alters the body’s hormones, in this case with a mix of testosterone and progestin, and is taken for 28 days. The men who partook in the trial were all deemed healthy and aged between 18 and 50, while 10 men took a placebo.

Although some of the men noted headaches, acne and decreased libido, none of them stopped taking the pill due to the side effects, and none reported were deemed a serious problem. As many women who take the female contraceptive pill know, unfortunately these symptoms are common.

Co-principal investigator and lead researcher at LA Biomedical Research Institute Dr. Christina Wang, says: “In females you have many, many methods. You have the pill, you have the patch, you have the vaginal ring, you have intrauterine devices, injections.” 

Male contraceptive pill passes safety tests

Wang continues: “In men there is nothing that is like hormonal contraception. The standard is not equal for the genders.”

Although the progress has been recognised as significant, Wang says there is a lot to do before the pill would be close to being distributed.

The researchers will next need to conduct similar studies but on a longer-term scale with just men, and then eventually again using thousands of couples who would be willing to test the drug for a number of years.

Still, Wang says these are all positive steps forward, and that taking the contraceptive pill would be a good thing for men, too.

“Men don’t come and see the doctor until very late. Traditionally, they are not as compliant as females,” Wang says.

“If you bring the guys in maybe once a year to check on the contraception, you check blood pressure and so on, and it makes men more aware of their own health.”

Images: Getty Images

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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