Women Can Do It, Men Cannot

Whenever a couple has fumbled with a condom, the subject might come up, 'can't you just be taking the pill'...of course condoms will always prevent most STDs, and contraceptive pills cannot. But, girls, haven't you just thought: can't he 'just be taking the pill.' Women have had 50 years of birth control pills and men, still none! Research for advances in male contraception wasn't always lagging so far behind. In a study by Briggs and Briggs published in Nature in 1974 they showed that estrogen plus testosterone could suppress sperm production. Testosterone alone can get those sperm counts very low, and sex drive is maintained. In Asia the studies were better, the Chinese used a compound TU 500, and got very low counts, leading the researchers to believe that it was easier to decrease sperm counts in Asian than in Caucasian men. The young men complained of many of the same side effects women experience with the pill: acne, hormonal sweating including night sweats, and weight gain. Interestingly there was a sexual side effect as well: the guys had increased libido! We do know from some of the studies of long term side effects of the male hormones, androgens, that liver cancers are a potential side effect, and other cancers may be as well, so safety of this concept has never been established. Like having the baby, taking the birth control pill, is still up to us women!

On going research into pill safety and efficacy still occurs. Please contact Women's Health Practice Research Division if you are interested in participating in a research study on contraception: 217-356-3736.

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