Up until now, the only viable birth control option for men was either a condom or a vasectomy. Talk about two polar opposites. But now the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is experimenting with a non-invasive gel that could be the new preferred male contraception.
“A safe, highly effective and reversible method of male contraception would fill an important public health need,” said Diana Blithe, head of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Contraceptive Development Program. The progestin gel can simply be rubbed into a man’s back and shoulders to stop the production of sperm.
The NICHD is currently enrolling about 400 couples around the world to test the gel and its effectiveness.
“This is the first time that men are using it as part of a couple to test for effectiveness,” said Blithe.
In a statement, the NICHD said the gel contains the compound segesterone acetate (sold under the brand names Nestorone, Elcometrine, and Annovera), along with testosterone and is absorbed through the skin.
The progestin blocks natural testosterone production in the testes, reducing sperm production to low or nonexistent levels. The replacement testosterone maintains normal sex drive and other functions that are dependent on adequate blood levels of the hormone.
Nestorone can also be found in vaginal rings, which, if you’re unfamiliar, is a female contraception.
According to NBC News, the contraception, known as NES/T, is formulated as a gel “because Nestorone does not get absorbed by the body when it’s taken orally, and testosterone does not stay in the body for a full day when taken as a pill. Both hormones last longer and work better when dosed through the skin.”
The question now is: will men actually use it?