New male contraceptive found 99 percent effective
But it's not on shelves yet
April 2, 1996
Web posted at: 3:30 p.m. EST
LONDON (CNN) -- The World Health Organization is hailing a new male contraceptive injection as 99 percent effective, and claims it could eventually revolutionize birth control.
Four hundred men in nine countries were given weekly injections of testosterone that reduced their sperm counts dramatically. Some levels dropped to zero.
The men reported few side effects, although some noted mood changes and acne.
The drug has not necessarily been perfected, but it gives men an alternative to traditional forms of birth control.
The injection "increases options available to males," who were previously limited to condoms, withdrawal or a vasectomy, says Dr. Fred Wu of Manchester University.
Scientists warn that the procedure is still in the experimental phase and will not be marketed until more tests are run. Helen Axby of the British Family Planning Center cautions that the testing could take years.
"This research has been going on for many years and still has a long way to go before it's a marketable contraceptive," she says. The drug is not expected to reach consumers for at least another five to 10 years.
Axby explains the wait by describing the imbalance in birth control research.
"The focus has certainly been on contraceptives for women. That has been the traditional way that drug companies and scientists have developed contraceptive methods," Axby says.
While the tests have been successful, WHO experts are skeptical of a pill form of the male contraceptive.
Some say the wait for the contraceptive will not be as long as the wait for men to take responsibility for their own birth control.
Others pushing for the male contraceptive think men are more than ready for another option to condoms and surgery.
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