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Your Health -- Male contraceptive pill on the horizon?

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A hormonal male contraceptive has met with some success, according to a study released this week, raising the prospect that one day men will have access to a birth control method similar to the pill millions of women take.

Researchers from The University of Edinburgh's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology said they have found a way to suppress daily sperm production while maintaining normal levels of testosterone in the body.

Study subjects reported only minor side effects, including mood swings, weight gain and increased appetite -- some of the same side effects felt by women who take contraceptive pills.

"We're very excited about the success of these studies and we will now start the larger studies needed to find the optimal dose and to provide evidence of effectiveness at large scale. These are expected to take around four years," said Dr. Hans Rekers, assistant medical director of N.V. Organon, a pharmaceutical company in the Netherlands that manufactures the pill used in the study.

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Sixty-six men in Scotland and China participated in the study. For 24 weeks, they were given desogestrel, a synthetic hormone that is the main component in the female pill. Desogestrel stopped the production of sperm in men in much the same way it prevents ovulation in women.

At the same time, each of the men received an implant injection of two 200-milligram testosterone pellets at the start of the treatment and again 12 weeks later.

After discontinuing desogestrel, sperm concentrations in all of the men returned to pre-study levels within 16 weeks.

Large-scale studies are scheduled to begin by the end of the year. Rekers said a male contraceptive pill or implant could be available by 2005.



RELATED STORIES:
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July 20, 2000
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RELATED SITES:
University of Edinburgh Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Population Council
AVSC International
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists


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