The male contraceptive pill, myth or reality?

Publié le : 12 March 2013

 In the daily Le Figaro, Dr Jean-Claude Soufir, a practitioner in Cochin hospital, senior university lecturer and former director of the andrology unit of Bicêtre hospital, reviews the existence of the male contraceptive pill and explains its action. Its functioning is based on the same principle as the female pill. In women, the pill inhibits ovulation. It "combines a progestin (norsteroid) and ethyloestradiol, derived from the natural female hormone (oestradiol)". In men, the pill "inhibits the production of sperm." The progestin is combined here with derivatives of testosterone.           

The tests carried out from 1950 to 1958, "usually using injections showed that one could use this combination or even derivatives of testosterone on their own." But these different attempts were not conclusive, as the treatments led to undesirable effects such as the loss of virility or weight gain.          
Beginning in 1976 "a French gynaecologist, Salat-Baroux, carried out a protocol of this type based on oral administration", and "a non-injectable treatment (pill-gel) was developed in Bicêtre hospital." in 1978, faced with "the insistent demand for a male contraception from couples in which the woman had suffered from complications caused by female contraception," Dr Jean-Claude Soufir and his team "proposed a new treatment combining a pill (progestin) and, for the first time, natural testosterone administered in the form of a gel applied to the skin. The products used are available in pharmacies[…]." The clinical trials led to "satisfactory results: the couple’s sexual life improved, the production of sperm was inhibited, and the contraceptive action was effective." However, these trials are not yet regulated, so "the pill-gel treatment cannot be distributed on a large scale." To carry out these trials, a financial investment by pharmaceutical firms would be necessary, but none of them seem to want to do this currently.

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