Long acting Hormonal contraceptives and multipurpose methods could be “Game Changers”: Male Hormonal Contraception
KNH in partnership with the University of Nairobi college of health sciences held a symposium titled “Male Hormonal Contraception: What is on the pipeline?” on 28th January 2020 at UoN College of Health Sciences Lecture Theatre I. The symposium was held to shed light on a new form of male contraception that is hormonal and reversible, unlike the currently available options which are non-hormonal (condoms) and irreversible (vasectomy).
Men currently have little choice when it comes to contraception. Vasectomy is considered permanent and condoms have a high failure rate with typical use.
Speaking while making her presentation, Prof. Stephanie Page from the University of Washington explained that the global uptake of male contraception is currently at 18%. “Surveys of men suggest 55% are ready for male contraception. A male-directed contraceptive is necessary because men are deeply affected by unplanned pregnancies, among other reasons,” she stated Kenya is participating in a two-year study on the male hormonal contraceptive. The contraceptive comes in the form of a gel applied on the shoulders and works by interrupting the development and maturation of sperms with efficacy from 8 weeks of use. It reduces sperm count and sperm mobility thus reducing the chance of pregnancy.
“The advantage of this method is that it is reversible when one stops using the gel. The sperm count goes back to normal within 8 weeks and fertility is restored,” explained Prof. Page.
Male hormonal contraception is a topic that brews heated debate in the Kenyan society. However, it is an effective family planning method with 95% efficacy in the trial phase and minimal side effects; couples should embrace this idea and enroll for the study at KNH.
Large-scale clinical trials in men proved that when sperm output is suppressed to a very low level, the contraceptive efficacy is very high. Androgens plus a progestin will most likely be the first hormonal contraception method for men. The matching of a progestin to testosterone may be more complex, and a balance between the two steroids may be necessary to produce a viable, safe, and reversible male hormonal contraception. Surveys in men and women in the reproductive age group suggest that many men and women would accept male hormonal methods as a contraceptive option. Partnership between government, nongovernment agencies, academia, and industry will identify the best combinations of steroids to bring forward, conduct clinical trials, and submit reports to regulatory agencies for approval, and ensure accessibility of these approved agents by all men.