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What We Know About the Male Birth Control Pill YCT-529 Tested by Researchers

ReachMD Healthcare Image
12/19/2023
forbes.com

Topline

Researchers began testing a first-of-its-kind non-hormonal male birth control pill this week, a promising step for male contraceptive care as previous hormonal methods faced challenges like too many side effects and issues reducing sperm production.

Man Taking Medication

getty

Key Facts

Manufacturer YourChoice Therapeutics began its phase I trial of its daily male birth control pill known as YCT-529 this week, which involves British participants.

Unlike the female birth control pill, YCT-529 is a hormone-free type of retinoic acid receptor-alpha (RAR-alpha) inhibitor, which means it works by blocking access to vitamin A, preventing sperm production.

Previous studies have found vitamin A deficiencies can lead to infertility as it’s needed for male reproduction, sperm production and the maintenance of the male genital tract.

When tested in male mice during preclinical trials, the male contraceptive showed 99% efficacy in preventing pregnancy, was 100% reversible without any side effects and the mice were fertile again four to six weeks after stopping the pill.

The amount of men willing to take male contraceptive rages between 34% to 82.3%, according to a 2021 study published in the Journal of Sex Research.

When Could The Male Birth Control Pill Be Available?

Unclear. This clinical trial is expected to end in June 2024.

Big Number

$200 billion. That’s how much the market value of new male contraceptives is worth (between $40 billion to $200 billion), assuming a market size of 10 million men in the U.S. and 50 million men worldwide, according to a study published in Current Obstetrics and Gynecology Reports.

Crucial Quote

“The world is ready for a male contraceptive agent and delivering one that’s hormone-free is simply the right thing to do given what we know about the side effects women have endured for decades from The Pill,” Gunda Georg, researcher behind the pill and founding director of the Institutes for Therapeutics Discovery and Development, said in a statement.”

Key Background

Though almost half of all pregnancies worldwide are unintended, the only contraceptive options available to men are condoms and vasectomies, according to the National Institute of Health. The issue with creating new birth control methods is men produce around 1,000 sperm a second—totalling millions a day—whereas women produce one egg per month. A phase II male birth control study commissioned by the World Health Organization was stopped in 2016 after researchers found it had too many side effects, according to the results published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Participants taking the hormonal injections reported mood swings, acne, depression and suicidal ideation—all side effects of female birth control. Initial results for the male injectable were promising: The drug looked to be 96% effective at preventing pregnancy. A hormonal birth control gel was the first male contraceptive to make it to phase III trials in 2022. It’s applied on each shoulder and lowers sperm production to less than one million sperm per milliliter compared to the typical 15 million to 200 million sperm per milliliter. Trials for a hormonal male birth control pill called dimethandrolone undecanoate are ongoing, though a previous 2019 study found it was safe and effective with no serious side effects.

Tangent

There are several types of female birth control options, including pills, patches, intrauterine devices (IUD) and rings, which range from 71% efficacy to 99% efficacy. Though they have their benefits, there are also health risks associated with hormonal birth control, according to Healthline. Side effects include mood swings, blood clots, weight change, vaginal irritation and migraines. Recent research has indicated women who take any type of hormonal birth control are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

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Schedule27 May 2024