There are a gamut of ways women prevent pregnancy: birth control pills, implants, hormonal patches, shots or sponges, vaginal rings, cervical caps, IUDs and, of course, abstinence. But for people with penises, contraceptives don’t go far beyond condoms.
Until now. A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism has confirmed the efficacy of an injectable contraceptive that reduces men’s sperm counts and helps to prevent pregnancies.
A group of 320 healthy and fertile men between 18 and 45 years old from Australia, Germany, the UK, Chile, India, Indonesia and Italy volunteered to receive two injections every eight weeks for 26 weeks. One injection contained a chemical compound known as “norethisterone enanthate” and the other contained a chemical compound called “testosterone undecanoate.” Researchers acquired semen samples after the eight and 12 week marks of the study—the “suppression phase”—and every two weeks thereafter for a maximum of seven times. When a participant’s sperm count reached just under one million sperm per milliliter, they were given the go-ahead to rely solely on the injections.
Of the men, 274 experienced a drop in sperm count enough to enable unprotected sex with their female partners. Only four ended up in pregnancies, meaning the injections were 96 percent effective—just slightly less than condoms, which are about 98 percent effective, and actually higher than the 91 percent effectiveness of oral pills, patches and vaginal rings for women.
But 20 guys dropped out of the study early due to some side effects: depression, moodiness, weight gain, muscle pain, acne and unusually high libido—essentially, all things women go through on birth control along with, you know, randomly bleeding…
Most of the participants, however, said they’d use the contraceptive option if it became widely available. Would you?