Male contraceptive development critical since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, UW doctor says

dr Stephanie Page is leading a new study on a topical gel that stops sperm production without reducing sex drive.

SEATTLE — Women have been using them for decades. Now, with changes in abortion rights, researchers say there’s renewed interest in male contraceptives.

Although there is a pill, patch, injection, IUD, and foam, male contraceptive options are few. dr Stephanie Page, a professor of endocrinology at UW Medicine, is hoping to change that.

“Men actually only have the condom and vasectomy as contraceptive methods. So you don’t have a lot of options,” Page said.

Page has been researching male contraceptives for 20 years and was drawn to the program at UW.

“The University of Washington has been at the forefront of male contraception research for over 50 years,” Page said.

Page led a 2018 study into a male birth control pill that was considered safe with few side effects. The pill uses hormones to stop sperm production, and only for as long as the pill is being taken.

“Hormonal methods for men work very much like hormonal contraceptives do for women. In this case, we’re using testosterone instead of estrogen,” Page said.

Interest has been high among men and couples, according to Page, who said the development of contraception has come a long way since the fall of Roe v. Wade vital.

“We believe that by improving men’s choices, men will be more concerned with birth control. And with Roe, that’s more important than ever,” Page said.

Page is currently researching a topical gel for men that is applied to the shoulder and works similar to a male birth control pill. She is seeking hundreds of couples to participate at 15 locations worldwide. The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Population Council.

She recruits couples to participate in phase two of the research. Eligible couples could be compensated up to $2,600 for men and up to $840 for women.

While interest could increase, Page said it could be at least another five to seven years before male birth control hits the market.

“We need to do another study that will probably involve thousands to 2,000 couples, and that’s going to take a few years,” Page said. Male contraceptive development critical since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, UW doctor says

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