HomeHealth TopicMen's Health

The Latest Updates on Male Birth Control Options

Joshua Murdock, PharmDAlyssa Billingsley, PharmD
Updated on August 5, 2022

Key takeaways:

  • External condoms and vasectomies are currently the only male birth control tools available in the U.S. 

  • Oral pills, such as YCT529 and dimethandrolone undecanoate (DMAU), are being studied in clinical trials. The company that licensed YCT529 is planning on starting their first in-human clinical trial in late 2022.

  • Non-oral options are also being developed, such as Nestorone and testosterone (NES/T). NES/T is a gel that you apply to your skin — it’s currently in a phase 2 clinical trial.

The idea of male birth control has been floating around for decades. But as time has pushed forward, progress in research and development hasn’t followed suit. If you’re having vaginal sex and want to use contraception, an external condom or a vasectomy are still your two options to choose from. 

By comparison, many contraceptive options are now available for women. Birth control pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs), long-acting implants, and many others have all won FDA approval. These advances have impacted the lives of millions, but there’s still a lot of interest in finding a successful and well-tolerated male birth control option. 

To help address this demand, a number of medications are actively being researched in clinical studies. Here, we’ll summarize the latest updates for male birth control medications in development.

YCT529

What it is: YCT529 is a chemical that’s being developed as a non-hormonal male birth control pill. It’s thought to reduce sperm counts by attaching to a special receptor (chemical binding site) in your body for vitamin A. 

How it’s used: YCT529 is being studied as a once-daily oral pill. At this time, we don’t have much other information about how it’ll be dosed. 

Status: Early results from studies in mice were announced by the American Chemical Society in March 2022. These results were positive, so now YCT529 is set to be studied in people. Researchers are planning on starting a phase 1 clinical trial in late 2022.

Other considerations: YCT529 is a preliminary, chemical name for this potential medication. If it continues to advance through clinical trials, it’ll be given a more traditional drug name. 

Latest news

University of Minnesota-developed YCT529 nearing first in-human study

August 5, 2022

It appears that YCT529 is inching closer to its first in-human study. 

Developed by researchers at the University of Minnesota, YCT529 is licensed to a U.S. company called YourChoice Therapeutics. Recent reports say that the company is working on submitting a request to the FDA that would let them start their new study.

If the FDA gives them the green light, YourChoice Therapeutics plans to begin a phase 1 clinical trial by the end of 2022. This study will aim to assess the safety of YCT529 in about 80 men. 

To read more about this update, click or tap here.

Dimethandrolone undecanoate (DMAU)

What it is: Dimethandrolone undecanoate (DMAU) is a medication that’s being studied as a male birth control pill. It’s a hormonal medication that suppresses certain male sex hormones to reduce sperm counts while you’re taking it.

How it’s used: DMAU is an oral pill that’s given once daily. So far, studies have only assessed its safety over a 1-month time period. But if approved, it’d likely be taken daily over time — similar to oral birth control pills used by women.

Status: Researchers have completed a phase 1 clinical trial for oral DMAU, but there hasn’t been much movement on a phase 2 clinical trial. In general, before the FDA considers approving any medication for use, it needs to go through phase 3 clinical trials.

Other considerations: An injectable version of DMAU is also being studied. A phase 1 clinical trial is still recruiting participants, but the study is expected to be completed by December 2024

Latest news

Researchers are actively studying the potential safety of an injectable version of DMAU

May 2, 2022

DMAU is actively being studied as an injection that’s given under your skin or into your muscle. Researchers from academic institutions in California and Washington are studying DMAU’s safety in a phase 1 clinical trial. 

By comparison, there haven't been many updates recently about oral DMAU. The most recent update we have is from 2019. 

To read more about this update, click here

Nestorone and testosterone (NES/T)

What it is: Nestorone and testosterone (NES/T) is a combination medication that’s being studied as a male birth control. Nestorone is a hormonal medication that aims to reduce sperm counts to a very low level. Testosterone is used to help control Nesterone’s side effects, such as a low sex drive

How it’s used: NES/T is a gel that’s applied topically to your shoulders and upper arms once daily. 

Status: NES/T’s safety and effectiveness is currently being studied in a phase 2 clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This study is expected to be finished by December 2024

Other considerations: Nestorone is a brand-name version of segesterone, a progestin medication that’s also found in several birth control medications for women. 

Latest news

University of Utah Health researchers have joined the NIH-funded study for NES/T gel

May 2, 2022

In early 2022, University of Utah Health researchers announced that they’re one of the latest groups to join the international study that’s assessing the safety and effectiveness of NES/T gel. They’re currently recruiting healthy men to join their study. The study will take about 2 years to complete. 

Other testing sites are also part of the study. In the U.S., places like California, Colorado, and Pennsylvania are involved. It’s also being studied internationally in places such as Italy, Kenya, and the U.K. 

Read more about this update here

ADAM

What it is: ADAM is a hydrogel implant — a specialized group of molecules — that’s being studied as a non-hormonal male birth control option. It’s considered to be a medical device, not a medication.

How it’s used: ADAM is a little different than the previous medications in this list. It’s injected (implanted) into your vas deferens, which is a tube that carries sperm out of your testes. Similar in style to an intrauterine device (IUD) used by women, it’s being developed as a possible long-term birth control option

Status: ADAM’s safety is currently being studied in a small trial. This first human study began in April 2022, and it’s expected to be completed by June 2025. If all goes well with this trial, additional trials will be needed to research ADAM’s potential effectiveness. 

Other considerations: This is a reversible form of birth control. When ADAM is first implanted, it forms a blockage in your vas deferens. But after a while, it turns into a liquid and it’s washed out of your system. 

Latest news

The company behind ADAM has started the first study of a ‘non-hormonal male contraceptive device’ in more than 20 years

May 2, 2022

Contraline, the company that makes ADAM, recently started their first human clinical trial for their male contraceptive implant. It officially kicked off in early April 2022 at two hospitals in Australia. 

This study is aiming to assess the long-term safety of ADAM. After initially receiving the device, each study participant will be assessed after 1 month. After the 1-month check-in, they’ll each be monitored routinely for up to 36 months (3 years). Results will likely be announced after this time period. 

To read more about this update, click or tap here

Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance (RISUG)

What it is: Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance (RISUG) is another medical device that’s being studied as a long-acting, non-hormonal male birth control. RISUG forms a partial blockage in the vas deferens, but it also changes the makeup of your sperm so it can’t fertilize an egg. 

How it’s used: RISUG is a gel that’s injected into your vas deferens (similar to ADAM, mentioned above). It’s a reversible form of birth control that can be flushed out of your system whenever you want. 

Status: RISUG isn’t actively being studied in the U.S. But it’s been studied through phase 3 clinical trials in India, and it’s been patented in the U.S. A very similar version of RISUG, called Vasalgel, has been studied in animal studies in the U.S. Human studies of Vasalgel haven't started yet. 

Other considerations: Some people consider RISUG and Vasalgel to be alternative, reversible options to a vasectomy.

Latest news

There haven't been many updates for RISUG or Vasalgel lately. 

What unsuccessful male birth control options have been studied in the past?

Many medications and substances have been studied in the past as well-intentioned male contraceptive tools. However, so far, none have won FDA approval. 

So, why is this? Well, it varies by medication, but the most common reason is due to bothersome side effects. Even though many medications have proven to be effective in clinical studies, their side effects and risks have limited their use. This includes symptoms like mood changes, weight gain, and acne.

Here are some examples of previous treatments that have been studied:

Medication Why research has stalled
Clean Sheets Pill Lack of funding
Gossypol Side effects, irreversible fertility concerns
Testosterone enanthate (TE) Side effects, frequency of injections
Levonorgestrel + TE Side effects
Norethisterone enanthate + testosterone undecanoate Side effects
Adjudin Side effects
Gamendazole Side effects
Triptolide Irreversible fertility concerns

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