A male contraceptive gel is set to be trialled on humans in April, it’s been revealed.
Half a teaspoon of gel will be rubbed onto men’s upper arms and shoulders everyday for at least four months.
The gel, which dries within a minute, could become only the third type of contraception for men – behind condoms and vasectomies.
The latest trial will follow successful experiments in 2012, which found the gel reduced sperm concentration in almost 90 per cent of men.
“It’s not a lot of effort,” said Diana Blithe, Programme Director at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. “It’s just remembering to use it everyday,” she told Technology Review.
Principal Investigator Stephanie Page added: “I am very confident that if men put the gel on everyday, and apply it correctly, it will be effective.”
The trial is about gender equality, the scientists said. Men would also like to regulate their own fertility and not be forced into fatherhood, they said.
The trial will include more than 400 couples, and will take place at sites in the UK, US, Italy, Sweden, Chile and Kenya.
Men will apply the contraceptive gel for at least four months, while their female partners also use contraceptives.
The scientists will monitor the amount of sperm in the men’s semen.
If the amount of sperm is low enough to avoid pregnancy – less than one million per millilitre – the women will come off their contraceptives, the scientists said.
The gel contains two types of hormones – testosterone, and a type of progestin.
Progestin blocks testosterone production in the testes, which is usually used to make sperm.
The extra testosterone in the gel will be used to maintain hormone balance in the body, without producing any extra sperm.
If the trial is successful, it could still be several years before the gel becomes publicly availably, the researchers warned.