The main points
- Contraceptive injections for men have been trialled in Australia, but there are currently no plans for the method to be made available to the public.
- Clinical studies suggest that a combination of the hormones testosterone and progesterone may provide a safe, effective and reversible method of male contraception in the future.
- When choosing a method of contraception, it is important to have access to accurate information and to talk openly about your options with your partner.
Current Research on Hormonal Contraception for Men
A large-scale, international clinical trial of a hormone-based form of male contraception was conducted across seven countries, including Australia, with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and CONRAD (connected to Eastern Virginia Medical School, United States).
The study tested a hormone combination treatment to suppress the body’s ability to make sperm in a reliable and reversible way. Participants were given an injection of the hormones testosterone and progestogen (a synthetic version of the naturally occurring hormone progesterone) every eight weeks. The study tested how effective this approach was over a 12-month period while carefully monitoring the health of participants. However, this study ended early due to questions about the risks of possible side effects.
Currently, there are no plans for a hormonal method of male contraception to be made available to the public in Australia.
Previous Clinical Studies
An Australian clinical study completed in 2003 tested 55 men over a 12-month period. A hormone implant of testosterone was inserted under the skin every four months and an injection of progestogen was given every three months.
None of the female partners of the men who used the method, as directed by the study, became pregnant. All of the participants maintained their normal levels of energy and libido (sex drive).
Advantages of hormonal contraception for men
Advantages of hormonal contraception for men include:
It would give men a new, reversible and alternative method of contraception that they could control themselves.
It would offer an alternative to vasectomy in men, which is not reliably reversible.
The method would provide an alternative for couples who cannot use certain methods of female contraception, such as the combined oral contraceptive pill.
It would let men share responsibility for the cost of contraception and the need to regularly visit a doctor or reproductive health nurse.
Disadvantages of Hormonal Contraception for MenDisadvantages of hormonal contraception for men include:
- It would not give protection from STIs.
- It would take about three to six months to work and about the same length of time to wear off.
- The method would not completely stop sperm from being produced in one in 25 men who use it.
- It could raise complex issues about the rights and responsibilities of men and women in relation to contraception.
- It would take many years to assess any long-term side effects.
Choosing the Right Method of Contraception
When you are choosing the method of contraception that is right for you, it is important to have access to accurate information and to talk openly about your options with your partner.
It is also important to think about how well each method works, the possible side effects, how easy it is to use and how much it costs. It is important to weigh the pros against the cons and think about how each method meets your current and future needs. The method you choose will depend on your general health, lifestyle and relationships. It can help to talk about your options with a doctor or reproductive health nurse.
Protection from Sexually Transmissible Infections
The best way to lessen the risk of STIs is to use barrier protection such condoms. Condoms can be used for oral, vaginal and anal sex with other methods of contraception to help stop infections from spreading.
Where to get more information, support or advcie
- Contact your local doctor (GP)
- Contact Family Planning Victoria's clinics
- Visit Better Health Channel