Male birth control pill could be a reality in five years, says researcher

Long Lunch 22/03/2018
Photo: iStock.

While there has been much talk about a male contraceptive pill, women have still been the exclusive users of such method since ‘the pill’ was invented.

That might change within 5 years’ time.

Dr Arthi Thirumalai, from the University of Washington School of Medicine, joined Wendyl Nissen on The Long Lunch to discuss the positive strides that have been made towards the first ever male contraceptive pill.

As the lead author of the study, Dr Thirumalai explained that dimethandrolone undecanoate or DMAU, reduces testosterone and other hormone levels responsible for sperm production.

Whether they will be willing to tolerate mild side effects – time will tell.

In layman’s terms, DMAU tells a man’s brain to block the production of hormones that produce testosterone in sperm.

She told Wendyl that a larger study should show that the daily pill reduces sperm count. And thus, reducing the chance of pregnancy.

Dr Thirumalai noted that some people argue that women ultimately hold the responsibility to take birth control because they can physically become pregnant.  

“I think there’s probably a change in attitude.

“I think men welcome options and I think they are willing to participate in this responsibility of controlling family size,” she said.

She said that previous talks of male contraception may have been road blocked due to severe symptoms or a pill that need to be taken more than once a day.

According to Dr Thirumalai, all of the study’s subjects continued to take the pill despite some “tolerable” side effects.

Once the researchers are able to conduct larger studies with the pill, they will be able to determine whether the side effects are indeed tolerable and how men feel about them.

“Whether they will be willing to tolerate mild side effects – time will tell.”

Listen to the full interview with Dr Arthi Thirumalai above. 

The Long Lunch with Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.