A man in a gray sleeveless shirt was is being injected

Testosterone Tested as Male Contraceptive

Clinical trials conducted since the 1970s indicate that a form of testosterone therapy could have an application as an effective male contraceptive. Following are salient points detailing the results of those clinical trials, as described in a January 2016 research paper co-authored by Christina Wang, Mario P.R. Festin and Ronald S. Swerdloff: “Male Hormonal Contraception: Where Are We Now?”

A Form of Testosterone Therapy Shows Promise as a Male Contraceptive Agent

  • In the clinical trials, exogenous testosterone was either administered alone or in combination with progestin in order to suppress the production of sperm and testosterone.
  • The studies in which testosterone alone was used demonstrated that this method was effective with problematic side effects.
  • When progestin was added to the testosterone, the suppression rates and extent of sperm production were increased.
  • Side effects included pain at the site of injection, mood changes including depression, mild fluctuations in the level of libido and acne. The changes in libido were reported as usually mild.
  • Recent studies have involved the use of long-acting injectable hormones, transdermal gels and the introduction of androgens.
  • Surveys reveal that more than 50% of men are willing to accept a new method of contraception; females surveyed indicate a high level of trust if their male partners take male contraceptives in the form of pills.

A Closer Look at Possible Side Effects

A clinical trial co-sponsored by the United Nations begin in September 2008 but was cut short in 2016 because some of the participants experienced adverse side effects. The results of the clinical trial -- designed to test the safety and effectiveness of a male contraceptive injection - were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. The participants consisted of 320 healthy males with normal sperm counts, ages 18-45, who were in long-term monogamous relationships with healthy female partners who expressed no desire to become pregnant within two years. The participants were followed on a rolling basis at health clinics throughout the world.

The most common reported side effects related to the hormonal contraceptive treatment were:

  • Acne - 46%
  • Increased libido - 38%
  • Pain at the site of the injections - 28%
  • Mood disorders, such as depression - 17%
  • Muscular soreness - 16%

For more information about the study, please see: