It is about time men play a role in family planning in the relationship, and so far they have had three options: condoms, vasectomy, and withdrawal during sex. Well, if all goes well, men will have a third option, a male birth control gel.
The gel is currently in trials, and Kenya is one of the few countries where clinical trials on human subjects are currently underway.
Lowered Sperm Count
As it works out, the male birth control get (in its phase-two clinical trial) gets applied on the shoulders. The gel will then be absorbed through the skin in the upper arms and shoulders. It works by lowering the sperm count to a point where semen produced is not capable of impregnating a woman.
The said gel is made up of the hormone nestorone, which is also commonly used in female contraception and testosterone. The technical term for the gel is NES/T and is believed by medical experts producing it to be a reversible contraceptive for men.
The clinical trial in Kenya will be running from the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), and the Kenyan men volunteering for the program will be in it for 52 weeks. All the while, they are required to stay with one woman throughout the course of the experiment, since medical experts will be keeping tabs on both partners as they look for any side effects.
Who created NES/T Male Birth Control?
The gel was created by the Population Council, in partnership with the US National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).
Kenya among a handful of countries where clinical test of the NES/T male birth control is being done. Others include the US, England, Italy, Chile, Scotland, and Sweden. The program is already ongoing in Kansas City, Los Angeles, and Seattle in the U.S.
This gel is one of a couple trial contraceptives for men that the medical science community has been working on. Others include male pills and injection.
“Initial studies done so far show that it does not reduce libido or cause adverse skin issues,” said Dr. John Kinuthia, the Kenya site principal investigator for the study. “The gel needs to effectively suppress spermatogenesis (or maturation of spermatozoa within the male reproductive organs, to a point whereby fertilization does not occur.
But importantly, we are testing to ensure that it has none or very minimal side effects.”