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U of U scientists test gel contraceptive for men, hope to ease burden of birth control for women

Jan 21, 2022, 10:46 AM | Updated: 10:59 am
Sperm production could be reduced with new contraceptive gel. Photo: Canva...
Sperm production could be reduced with new contraceptive gel. Photo: Canva

SALT LAKE CITY — Scientists at the University of Utah are studying a hormonal gel that could serve as a contraceptive for men when it’s applied to their shoulders. 

University of Utah Health scientists are testing a new contraceptive gel for men. Preliminary research indicates the hormonal gel can reduce sperm production, and thus reduce the chances of egg fertilization. 

Researchers from the University are recruiting 12 couples to participate in a two-year study. The study is part of a nationwide, Phase 2 clinical trial supported by the National Institutes of Health.

They are recruiting couples who are able to conceive and are mutually monogamous. Couples who participate can receive up to nearly $3,500 in compensation.

Easing the burden of birth control for women

Currently, heterosexual men have limited options for reducing their partner’s risk of pregnancy. Men can use condoms, abstain from sex, or undergo a vasectomy.

Women have traditionally carried the burden to take and use birth control as a means of preventing pregnancy. Researchers at the University of Utah say expanding contraceptive options for men could ease the burden for women.

David Turok, M.D., M.P.H, is one of the trial’s principal investigators and chief of the Division of Family Planning in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at U of U Health.

Dr. Turok said, “this is a fabulous opportunity for men to step up and take an active role in the development of new methods of contraception.” By using a contraceptive, he added, “they can demonstrate to their partners that they’re invested in a better future for all of us.” 

Contraceptive gel does not reduce sex drive

The new gel was developed by the Population Council and the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

It contains two hormones, one to block sperm production, and a second to maintain sex drive. In order to perform, the gel should applied to men’s shoulders daily.

Researchers explained it can take four to six months for the contraceptive to become effective, and its effects are reversible.  

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