A new male contraceptive, injected with a needle, is almost as effective as a female birth control pill, according to a new study.
More than 300 men were injected twice every two months for 56 weeks in the study, which was performed in Scotland, RT reports.
The men were given shots of two hormones per treatment: the first was progestogen, which told the pituitary gland to stop sperm production, while the second was testosterone that made up for the lack of testosterone caused by the progestogen, The Guardian reports.
The treatment was 96 percent effective, but side-effects included depression, acne and increased libido. These side effects led to 20 men quitting early, so the study ended earlier than scheduled.
Condoms have an estimated 82 percent effectiveness rate, while birth control pills have an estimated 99 percent success rate, RT reports.
The study was originally published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
Richard Anderson, one of the study's co-authors, told The Guardian, "If you’re comparing it to other reversible male methods, it’s far better than the condom and it puts it in the same ballpark as the pill."
Even with the unwanted side effects, 75 percent of the men who took part in the trial were willing to keep using the contraceptive shot.
According to Anderson, these injection treatments can't be made into pill form as the hormones would be broken down by the liver, but researchers are planning a new trial that would consist of a gel that is rubbed on the chest every morning.
Sarah Jones, a pharmacology specialist at the University of Wolverhampton, opined: "Most previous attempts at male contraception that have involved hormonal targets have led to severe side-effects or have been irreversible. This study does seem better than previous ones, but it still doesn’t seem very good to me."
Chris Barratt, professor of reproductive medicine at the University of Dundee, countered:
This is high quality research from a very experienced group of investigators, and as there has been no progress in male contraceptives for 40 plus years this is a very significant and welcome development. Additionally, the fact that the study reports relatively low side-effects and good ease of use are real-world developments. The study involved a reasonable number of patients so the results are likely to be robust.