Not really a solution

Or perhaps the problem is that it is a solution:

The gel, which is applied daily to the chest, shoulders and upper arms, contains a mixture of progesterone and testosterone. The progesterone switches off sperm production in the testes and the testosterone offsets a drop in testosterone that this causes.

Without adding testosterone back in, men get unpleasant side-effects such as low mood, weight gain and a slump in libido. Because testosterone is metabolised so quickly in the liver, it can’t be delivered effectively via a pill, and this has proved the major obstacle to developing a male hormonal contraceptive.

Recently, though, there has been significant progress. A trial in 2016 of a hormone jab demonstrated effectiveness rates close to those of the female pill, although some participants encountered other problems including acne and depression.

Scientists hope the gel version, which is being tested at centres in the UK, Sweden, Chile and Kenya, will prove easier to use and have fewer negative side-effects.

The drug comes in a pump something like a toothpaste dispenser and has the consistency of hand sanitiser. The man applies one dose to each shoulder, upper arm and pec each morning.

A slight inconvenience is that the female partner has to avoid contact with this part of the body (“unless Diana wants to grow a beard,” Owers said) to prevent a second-hand dose of testosterone. So men are advised to either shower before bed or wear a T-shirt at night.

It’s still not solved the basic contraceptive problem which, as with the pig and the chicken discussing breakfast, the man is interested while the woman is heavily involved.

15 comments on “Not really a solution

  1. “It’s still not solved the basic contraceptive problem which, as with the pig and the chicken discussing breakfast, the man is interested while the woman is heavily involved.”

    Thats not true nowadays, the woman is on the hook for pregnancy and child rearing, the man is on the hook for 18 years of working to pay for it, so at best equal, and given the frequency that women trap men with ‘unplanned’ pregnancies it seems quite a few value 18 years of £££ over their input into a child’s creation and care.

  2. Why do you suppose they are using that rather odd mix of countries? Could it possibly be because they have thought about that?

    Chile, and for sure Kenya, are not exactly typical clinical trial locations.

    How they will get up-front consent for paternity testing for the inevitable pregnancies will be interesting.

  3. Maybe we – decadent Westerners, the Japs, the Chinee – should think about possibly not contracepting away our future? Y’know, because extinction is generally something to be avoided?

    The progesterone switches off sperm production in the testes and the testosterone offsets a drop in testosterone that this causes.

    Imagine reading this, and thinking “yeah, I want some of that! Please rush me my preparation of eunuch cream!”

    It’ll probably be very effective at ensuring no woman ever lets you do sex to her ever again.

  4. “said Bardsley, a social researcher “It gives the chance for men to have this great combination of autonomy and more responsibility as well. That can only have a positive impact on the relationship between men and women in society.”

    Oh Diana, its that “only” that makes me worry about your social researching abilities.

  5. HB – When I ponder the wisdom of slathering oneself in synthetic hormones that turn nuts into raisins, “responsibility” is the word that comes to mind.

  6. Steve-
    Even now there’s someone writing how this revolution will force society to change its post coital norms.
    The future remake of When Harry met Sally’s poster will have the image of a sated sally’s hirsute visage resting on Harry’s manly moob.

  7. So smear yourself with dangerous hormones that will likely do far more than the medical hacks tell you they will? Err…No thanks. Score some steroids instead –at least that way you would have the muscle to bash a few of the medical hacks who have done you in.

  8. I thought the basic problem of a male hormonal contraceptive is that male contraception needs to stop 1 billion gamets per month, whereas female contraception only needs to stop one gamet per 1/4 month. It’s not a patricarchal, sexist, gender-normative, or societal expection probelm, it’s purely engineering.

  9. As people are different sizes and shapes doesn’t seem a very precise way to establish dosage

  10. jgh: exactly. Also, there is a time lag between starting to use it and all the sperms disappearing or dieing. So that’s another barrier to effective use.

  11. “It’s still not solved the basic contraceptive problem … the man is interested while the woman is heavily involved.”

    I suppose that’s the justification for letting the woman decide about abortion.

  12. HB – The future remake of When Harry met Sally’s poster will have the image of a sated sally’s hirsute visage resting on Harry’s manly moob.

    When Harry Met Carrie.

  13. “Why do you suppose they are using that rather odd mix of countries? Could it possibly be because they have thought about that?

    Chile, and for sure Kenya, are not exactly typical clinical trial locations.”

    I worked on drug trial recruitment and it’s about genetic diversity. We ran a trial in 23 countries like Japan, Israel, Mexico, Slovakia, South Africa. as well as multiple centres across countries.

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