British couple amongst first in the world to male contraception gel
A British couple is among the first in the world to use a male hormonal contraceptive gel-and they say it’s even boosted libido.
James Owers, 29, and his girlfriend Diana Bardsley, from Edinburgh, have volunteered to take part in the study, which is being led in the UK by Saint Mary’s Hospital, part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, and the University of Edinburg.
The international trial is studying the effectiveness of the hormone gel, called NES/T, by analyzing 450 couples who have agreed to use it as their only form of contraception for the next 12 months.
The gel which is applied daily to the chest, shoulders and upper arms is a mixture of progesterone and testosterone.
The progesterone switches off sperm production in the testes while the testosterone compensates for the drop in testosterone that this causes.
The hope is that couples in long-term relationships could eventually use the gel as an alternative to the contraceptive pill.
James said, “I squeeze a 50p-piece-size out of the dispenser – the dispenser is a bit like one of those posh toothpaste tubes. It’s got the consistency of hand sanitiser.
“I rub it into my shoulder and pectoral area and that dries in three to four seconds”
I do that to the other shoulder and then I get dressed and go about my day as normal.”
The couple has been using the gel since February but only switched to using it exclusively a week ago and they seem to be happy enough about the whole situation.
“I’m feeling very, very positive that either this contraceptive or other contraceptives for men will become available,” James added.
Dr Cheryl Fitzgerald, who works as a consultant in reproductive medicine at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust said “Obviously, if that doesn’t happen, we will tell couples they need to use other forms of contraceptive, but certainly the evidence we’ve got so far, is that this is very, very effective and it really does, really, really suppress sperm counts, so I think it will be highly effective.”
The trial has brought benefits for James’s partner, Diana, as well. She said, “One of the fantastic things for me is that I have been on hormonal contraception since I was 16 and this has now allowed me to have a break for the next year”.
“By giving men more choice we are taking some of the burden off women and allowing men to have more freedom over their own contraceptive method.”