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A Journal on Obstetrics and Gynecology

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Minerva Ginecologica 2006 June;58(3):215-26

language: English

Male hormonal contraceptives

Amory J. K.

Center for Research in Reproduction and Contraception Department of Medicine University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA


Efforts are underway to develop additional forms of contraception for men. The most promising approach to male contraceptive development involves the administration of exogenous testosterone (T). When administered to a man, T functions as a contraceptive by suppressing the secretion of luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone from the pituitary, thereby depriving the testes of the signals required for spermatogenesis. After 2-3 months of treatment, low levels of these gonadotropins lead to markedly decreased sperm counts and effective contraception in a majority of men. Hormonal contraception with exogenous T has proven to be free from serious adverse effects and is well tolerated by men. In addition, sperm counts uniformly normalize when the exogenous T is discontinued. Thus, male hormonal is safe, effective and reversible; however, spermatogenesis is not suppressed to zero in all men, meaning that some diminished potential for fertility persists. Because of this recent studies have combined T with progestogens and/or gonadotropin-releasing antagonists to further suppress pituitary gonadotropins and optimize contraceptive efficacy. Current combinations of T and progestogens completely suppress spermatogenesis without severe side effects in 80-90% of men, with significant suppression in the remainder of individuals. Recent trials with newer, long-acting forms of injectable T, which can be administered every 8 weeks, combined with progestogens, administered either orally or by long-acting implant, have yielded promising results and may soon result in the marketing of a safe, reversible and effective hormonal contraceptive for men.

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