Job Search Recruit

Why the male 'pill' is still so hard to swallow

sperm-2.jpg

A recent study looking at the effectiveness of a male contraceptive injection was abandoned after the men taking part reported increased incidences of acne (nearly half), mood disorders (over a fifth) and raised libido (over a third).

In fact, there were 320 men in the study – and a total of 1,491 adverse events were reported. For those overseeing the trial these side effects were viewed as being more significant than the fact that the contraceptive injection appeared to work well in reducing the production of sperm – and the evidence does appear to support their concerns?

Nevertheless, many women will feel these side effects seem minor when compared with those of the female contraceptive pill – and they’d have a point, too. These include anxiety, weight gain, nausea, headaches, reduced libido and blood clots. Which raises the question: why is it so hard to make a male contraceptive? And if the plug has been pulled on this one because of side effects, would the female contraceptive pill make it to market if it were released today?

On the face of it, regulating fertility in men should be the more obvious choice. Sperm are produced on a constant basis and not in cycles like eggs are in women. This means that, barring any underlying health problems, men are always fertile. In addition, as the biology of sperm production is well-known, the mechanisms of how to block it are also well-known.

Indeed, the current study was exploiting the well-established relationship between testosterone – the hormone that gives men their male characteristics – and sperm production. By giving men synthetic testosterone in combination with a hormone called progestogen – similar to the hormones usually found in the pill – sperm production in the testes is reduced dramatically.

Before the study was halted, the researchers from Martin Luther University, Germany, observed that pregnancy rates for the men on their trial fell to an equivalent of just 1.5 babies conceived per 100 couples. Compare this with the pregnancy rate of nine babies per 100 couples for women using the combined pill, and the development of such a male contraceptive seems like a no-brainer.

So what’s going on?

Yet, here we are at the end of another study – without being any closer to the development of a viable male contraceptive. As such, women are left once again placed solely in charge of their fertility as well as bearing the brunt of the side effects. Many women may view the side effects as the lesser evil when compared with an unplanned pregnancy, and many may also question whether leaving the responsibility of contraception in the hands of men will work.

But the side effects of the male pill could actually have been an unlikely beneficial factor. With both partners actively taking contraceptives – and sharing an understanding of the side effects – a joint sense of responsibility for the couple’s fertility would be established. Also, if one partner needed to take a break from their contraceptive, the other could start taking theirs, sharing the impact of those side effects.

So why has it been so difficult to develop an effective male contraceptive when women have been taking the pill, and enduring the side effects, since the early 1960s? In fact, looking at the original trial results from 1956, it’s hard to see how the contraceptive pill ever actually made it to market.

The first large-scale human trial was conducted in Rio Piédras, a Puerto Rican housing project. The women taking part received little information about the product they were receiving, partly because there was little to give and partly, perhaps, because none of the people running the trial felt it necessary. Such were clinical trials in the 1950s.

While women even then reported side effects including headaches, dizziness, nausea and blood clots, these were largely dismissed. Thankfully, since then, the pill has undergone constant refinement and modification, becoming a form of contraception now taken by an estimated 225m women world-wide.

The pill has unquestionably changed female sexual freedom, allowing women greater control over when to have children. Indeed, in 2012, UK women voted the pill their favourite invention of the last century – ahead of leisure devices such as the internet and the television.

Consequently, it is strange that more resources haven’t been ploughed by big pharmaceutical into a male pill. Part of the problem appears to be the very success of female contraceptives. As many pharmaceutical companies make big profits from female contraceptives, there is little desire to take focus away from them.

It also appears that there isn’t a universal desire by men for such a form of contraception. Indeed, a 2005 study surveyed more than 9,000 men across nine countries about their willingness to take a male pill. While approximately 70% of men in Spain and Germany stated they would be happy to take it, less than 30% of men in Indonesia displayed a positive attitude towards it.

Shared responsibility?

In the meantime, it seems that until there’s more demand from men for a “pill” of their own, the responsibility will be left to women. This means that the need for such a powerful regulator of fertility as the female contraceptive pill is still needed today as much as ever.

It should be remembered that many women take the pill for its additional benefits such a relieving heavy menstrual bleeding and pain, reducing acne and helping with premenstrual dysphoric disorder. With the development of new and improved contraceptive pills that contain lower hormone doses, the negative side effects of the pill also appear to be reducing.

Indeed, in light of the enormous benefits that the contraceptive pill has brought to women and their sexual health, it would be hard to imagine a world without it. But perhaps we should also be asking why, even in the 21st century, the idea of a man taking a contraceptive “pill” remains such a big deal.

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/why-the-male-pill-is-still-so-hard-to-swallow-a7400846.html

Posted in News on Nov 08, 2016

Recent posts
  • New nursing apprentice role announced

    Posted in News on Dec 02, 2016

    Aspiring nurses can soon enrol on a new on-the-job apprenticeship role, the government says. From September 2017, up to 1,000 NHS staff will be able to take up the training without having to go down the conventional university route to get a nursing degree. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says it complements the nursing associate role announced a year ago. Both initiatives aim to offer flexible routes into nursing in England. They might also give students an affordable way to train, since ministers plan to scrap student bursaries for nurses in September 2017. Student nurses at university are cur...

  • Mitie withdraws from healthcare as it issues second profit warning

    Posted in News on Nov 28, 2016

    Outsourcing group’s shares fall 18% in early trading as £128m write-off drives it to £100m pre-tax loss for half-year Lady McGregor-Smith, Mitie chief executive, announced soon after the first profit warning that she would step down. Mitie has published its second profit warning in two months after the outsourcing company’s customers continued to reduce spending due to rising costs and economic uncertainty. The company also said it would withdraw from its healthcare business, which provides home care for the elderly. The £128m cost of writing off the business drove Mitie to a £100m pre-tax lo...

  • NHS partners with Google's DeepMind AI to improve healthcare

    Posted in News on Nov 24, 2016

    The partnership between NHS and Google's DeepMind AI has raised privacy concerns regarding patient data. Google has revealed that its AI engine Deep Mind is currently using NHS data to aid doctors and health care professionals diagnose patients, which has raised concerns over patient privacy. The company's AI has been employed by doctors at the Royal Free Hospital in London, who claim that the technology can help free up over half a million hours per year spent on paperwork and the extra time could be allotted to treating patients. DeepMind is used at the hospital to send alerts to doctors wh...

  • Why the male 'pill' is still so hard to swallow

    Posted in News on Nov 08, 2016

    A recent study looking at the effectiveness of a male contraceptive injection was abandoned after the men taking part reported increased incidences of acne (nearly half), mood disorders (over a fifth) and raised libido (over a third). In fact, there were 320 men in the study – and a total of 1,491 adverse events were reported. For those overseeing the trial these side effects were viewed as being more significant than the fact that the contraceptive injection appeared to work well in reducing the production of sperm – and the evidence does appear to support their concerns? Nevertheless, many...

  • How To Answer The Most Common Nursing Interview Questions

    Posted in Uncategorized on Oct 19, 2016

    To be perfectly blunt, interviews can be rather nerve-wracking because a lot is at stake. After all, you really want to be considered for this available position, and you only have one chance to make a good first impression on the interviewer. Another aspect that adds to the stressful nature of the interview process is the fact that you are most likely competing with many other applicants for that prized job opening. Based on our candidate experiences, the vast majority of the most common nursing interview questions have remained constant and unchanged over the handful of years that I have be...

  • New 'nursing associate' role announced

    Posted in News on Oct 12, 2016

    Plans to create 2,000 "nursing associate" roles across England have been announced by health officials. The first 1,000 nursing associates, who will deliver "hands-on" care for patients, are due to start training at 11 tests sites from December, Health Education England (HEE) said. Following "huge interest" in the role from hospitals and other parts of the health sector, a second wave of training places will follow, HEE said. Union Unison has previously said the new roles should not be used "as a cheap way to replace registered nurses". But HEE said the role will bridge the gap between healt...

  • Nobel prize in medicine awarded

    Posted in News on Oct 04, 2016

    The Nobel prize in medicine has been awarded to a Japanese cell biologist for discoveries on how cells break down and recycle their own components. Yoshinori Ohsumi, 71, will receive the prestigious 8m Swedish krona (£718,000) award for uncovering “mechanisms for autophagy”, a fundamental process in cells that scientists believe can be harnessed to fight cancer and dementia. Autophagy is the body’s internal recycling programme - scrap cell components are captured and the useful parts are stripped out to generate energy or build new cells. The process is crucial for preventing cancerous growths...

  • RCN event list 2016

    Posted in Event on Oct 01, 2016

    • 04 Oct 2016 Vaccination past and present: Public Health exhibition launch Join us for a panel discussion for the launch of the exhibition A healthful form of work: The history of public health nursing. • 05 Oct 2016 From patient to person: changing the way we think about growing older RCN Scotland’s Centenary Public Debate to explore how a generation is changing the way we think about growing old. • 05 Oct 2016 Desert Island Discs: Professor Elizabeth Anionwu For Black History Month at the RCN we will be hearing the Desert Island Discs of Professor Elizabeth Anionwu. • 06 Oct 2016 L...