Male ‘Pill’ shows promise (1976)

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It’s interesting that, 40 years later, we’re still seeing the same kinds of news stories about the potential of male contraceptives. For example, 2011 brought us Could a birth control pill for men be on the horizon? and notes on a doctor spearheading a study on potential new male contraceptive. Well, maybe we’ll have the answer in another few decades…

Male “Pill” shows promise

Chemically-induced reduction of sperm as a “safe and reversible” form of birth control for men is showing promise, a University of Washington scientist says.

The method, which involves taking a pill and getting a monthly shot, is being field tested in Houston. Los Angeles and Seattle, Dr C Alvin Paulsen of the University of Washington Medical School said in New York Wednesday.

Paulsen told a symposium on contraception sponsored by the Ford Foundation that he has been working since 1971 to produce “a safe and reversible means of regulating male fertility, and one acceptable to males wanting to help prevent unwanted pregnancy.”

The male pill, consisting of the drug Danazol, inhibits pituitary gonadotrophin secretion and reduces the production of sperm, Paulsen said. A synergistic effect is created by a monthly injection of testosterone enanthate.

Paulsen’s research, supported by more than $400,000 in federal funds, has reduced many obstacles to the production of a reversible male “birth pill.”

>> Also see: The truth about “the Pill” (1987)

Earlier experiments in some cases resulted in impotence. Another side effect was a reddening of the whites of the eyes if whiskey was drunk by anyone who took the pill. This has been eliminated by Paulsen’s research. “Progress is being made, but obstacles still remain.” Paulsen said.

“It is quite clear that an alternative to vasectomy and the condom are needed by society.”

A study, sponsored by the Ford Foundation, released Wednesday showed that shortage of funds is slowing down the search for a better and safer male birth control pill. The report said funding should be triple the $109 million marked this year for research into improved contraceptive control technologies.

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Photo: Jack Klugman in popular TV show, Quincy, M.E., which debuted in 1976.

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