MONDAY, July 2 (HealthDay News) -- Men may one day have a birth-control option other than the condom or vasectomy -- if early research on a new contraceptive gel pans out.
Preliminary findings suggest that when applied to the skin, the gel dramatically lowers sperm counts, thus also lowering -- though not eliminating -- the risk for pregnancy.
This is the first time that a combination of testosterone and a synthetic progestin called Nestorone has been tested as a gel that could be applied topically. Previous research involved administering the combination by injection or via a patch, said study senior author Dr. Christina Wang, a professor of medicine at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute.
The combination contraceptive needs to undergo further testing before it is commercially available.
Although men have sometimes received a bad rap for not being willing to assume responsibility for birth control, Dr. Joseph Alukal, an assistant professor of urology at NYU Langone Medical Center, in New York City, thinks this reputation may be somewhat undeserved.
"I think [men] would use it more than is realized," said Alukal, who was not involved in the new research. "Plenty of guys are concerned about unwanted pregnancy, almost as much as women."
Unfortunately, condoms and vasectomy have remained the only commercially available contraception options for men.
The results of the study, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, were presented at the recent Endocrine Society annual meeting, held in Houston.
According to Wang, the gel was applied in two spots -- the testosterone component on the arm and the progestin component on the abdomen. The gels were applied every day for six months.
The study, conducted in conjunction with the University of Washington, involved 56 men who were assigned to receive one of
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