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In a preliminary study, researchers found that when men took an experimental pill every day for a month, the drug appeared to act in ways that could potentially block sperm production, and it seemed to be safe.

Like the pill for women, DMAU combines activity of an androgen (male hormone) like testosterone, and a progestin, and is taken once a day, said the study's senior investigator, Stephanie Page, Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle. To salvage the situation, men would also now have an option to take a drug that prevents pregnancy, thanks to a male contraceptive pill that is being developed towards that regard. The study included 100 healthy men, ages 18 to 50 years old, and took place at the University of Washington Medical Center and at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California. "Longer term studies are now underway to confirm that DMAU taken every day blocks sperm production", Page said.

"Although little testosterone is circulating, very few people have symptoms consistent with a testosterone deficiency", Trang said. She added that an effective oral contraceptive for men was hard to produce until now, due to the rapid metabolization rates of androgenous hormones by the male body.

At the highest dose tested, 400mg, there was "marked suppression" of the hormones required for sperm production, she said. All of the men took the pills once per day with food for 28 days.

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No major side effects were reported. It's 99 per cent effective when taken perfectly, Planned Parenthood wrote, but added that it's hard to do this. But the researchers found that there was no significant change in mood or sexual function among those who took the drug, compared with those who took a placebo.

All of the men who were taking the male birth control pills gained weight and had reduced HDL cholesterol, which is considered to be the good type of cholesterol. It would work by blocking two proteins that cause sperms to be released, according to the lead researcher Dr Sab Ventura.

The testosterone levels seen in the study's participants are comparable to those seen in men who have undergone castration, or removal of the testes, Courgi said. According to Dr Ventura, he and his colleagues were "moving closer to developing a convenient, safe and effective, non-hormonal oral male contraceptive that can be readily reversed".

While this research is not as far progressed as the new DMAU study, it highlights the variety of different tactics scientists are investigating to develop an elusive male contraceptive pill.


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