Best in Africa? Kenyan men among selected for hormonal birth control gel test

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Kenyan men will join others selected from five other countries for the largest clinical trial to date on a hormonal male contraception which will begin early this year.

The clinical trial, which begins in April and will run for about four years, will be the largest effort in the U.S. to test a hormonal form of birth control for men and will see participation from men from United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Chile and Kenya.

National Institutes of Health and the non-profit Population Council is sponsoring the research which contains a synthetic progestin called nestorone—which blocks the testes from making enough testosterone to produce sperm—and a synthetic testosterone, which will counteract subsequent hormonal imbalances.

This, they believe, will be a new option for men, who have only condoms and vasectomy as the only effective birth control methods.

The gel can suppress sperm levels for about 72 hours – meaning that a man cannot be able to impregnate a woman for three days after application of the gel.

“Each male participant will use the gel for a minimum of four months and their sperm levels will be monitored by researchers,” said says Diana Blithe, program director for contraception development at the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

“Men in the trial will take home a pump bottle of the gel and rub about half a teaspoon of it on their upper arms and shoulders every day. The gel dries within a minute,” says Blithe.

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