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Male Birth Control Is On Its Way, But Would Men Take It?

Almost 60 years after the female contraceptive pill was introduced into Australia, the first male contraceptive pill could be on its way.

A birth control pill for men that works to shut down sperm production has passed its initial safety tests.

The hormonal pill is being tested by researchers from LA BioMed and the University of Washington.

But it could still take a decade for the product to hit the market, doctors were told at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting.

Male contraceptive pill passes first health safety trials. Image: Getty

Dr Christina Wang said that side effects of the once-daily pill were mild during the 28-day trial, and that normal ejaculation and libido were generally preserved.

Of the 40 men tested, five men experienced slightly decreased sex drive and two reported erectile dysfunction.

Dr Wang and her fellow researchers are also conducting an international trial on a contraceptive gel that can be applied to men's back and shoulders.

She said the progestin hormone in the gel blocks natural testosterone production in the testicles, reducing the sperm count to almost non-existent levels.

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One downside with these contraceptives is that they take three months for the sperm count to reduce enough to be effective without the use of other contraceptives such as condoms.

Another limitation is that, like female birth control, the contraceptives would not protect against sexually transmitted infections.

A UK survey by Anglia Ruskin University in 2011 found that over 50 percent of women would worry about men remembering to take the pill every day.

Would you take a male contraceptive pill to prevent an unwanted pregnancy?
Liam, 25
Liam would take birth control if it was available. Image supplied.

"It would be fantastic! Most men have been waiting for it forever, it feels like," he said.

"I would be concerned about the side effects but I know that birth control for women also has side effects. I would like to see the rate of mental health problems involved in taking the pill."

Justin, 36

"I'm not philosophically opposed to transferring the burden of responsibility but I'd be very cautious around the hormonal impact because reduced testosterone can be really bad for mental health in men," Justin said.

"I think it creates some moral hazard. If the boy says they are on 'the pill' but they are lying, ultimately it is the girl that has to pay the physical toll through pregnancy."

Nikola, 25
Nikola believes birth control shouldn't just be a female responsibility. Image supplied.

"Friends of mine have said they don't want to wear a condom, so their female partners have to take the pill," he said.

"With this new technology the responsibility can be shifted to men and that's a good thing in 2019."

Angus, 30

"I think it's a great idea! We all have a role to play in preventing unwanted pregnancies," Angus said.

"I see this as a really good opportunity for men to take greater responsibility for their health and family planning. "

Daniel, 26
Daniel would consider taking the male birth control pill. Image supplied.

"Condoms are still number one for me but I would consider taking it, depending on if it would interfere with any of my medications and it being tested thoroughly," he said.

"I can see it being useful in perhaps a situation where the female can't take contraception for medical reasons."

Featured image: Getty

Contact Eden at egillespie@networkten.com.au