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Researchers in Scotland need men to trial a male contraceptive gel

Previous trials have shown some success

Image: Shutterstock/Honeybee49

RESEARCHERS IN SCOTLAND are looking for couples to take part in a clinical trial for a male contraceptive gel. 

The gel, called NES/T, contains the hormones nestorone and testosterone, and should be applied directly to clean skin in the morning, and left on for a minimum of four hours. 

It will “suppress their sperm production and stop them from being able to get their partners pregnant,” Dr John Reynolds-Wright, who is leading the study, told BBC’s Good Morning Scotland today.

Like the female combined contraceptive pill, the gel contains a combination of synthetic and non-synthetic hormones, but has no “feminising effects”.

The two hormones together help switch off the part of the brain that tells the testicles to make sperm. But because it’s got testosterone in it, it won’t remove any of the masculine traits that men have; it won’t damage the libido or anything like that.”

Previous trials 

The study is currently in its second phase, having trialed the gel on smaller groups previously. 

Reynolds-Wright said:

We know that it works, and we know that it does what we want it to; it will stop people from producing sperm while they’re using it, and their sperm count will recover when they stop using it.”

The purpose of this phase is to test it on a much larger group, of about 500 couples, to ascertain how effective it is at preventing pregnancy. 

For now, researchers know that the risk is “small, but unknown”. 

The female contraceptive pill has been around for more than half a century, and was lauded as a breakthrough for women in the 1960s. 

Many women are unable to use the pill, due to medical conditions or complications. Several other hormone-based options may also be unsuitable in some cases as a result. 

Male contraceptive options are currently limited to condoms and vasectomies, though researchers have been investigating the possibility of male hormonal contraceptives for about 20 years. 

If a female partner decides she no longer wants to use hormonal contraceptives, this would give these couples another option, said Reynolds-Wright. 

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