Male Birth Control Gel?

Originally published on July 5, 2012, on

Could it be that, finally, after all these years, a new birth control method for dudes is on the scene? Kinda sounds like, it based on recent headlines, but we’re not popping any corks quite yet (pun totally intended). The last thing we want to do is rain on a birth-control-related parade, but it will be years before the average Joe can actually use this newfangled birth control gel.

The study that’s been capturing so much press was carried out by a large team of researchers, with 99 men in Seattle and Los Angeles who volunteered to test the new gel. The researchers found that men who put the gel—which contains testosterone and progestin—on their skin every day had low sperm counts. How low? Experts think it’s low enough to provide 99 percent effective birth control. But since this was an early study, all the guys and their partners used another method of birth control in addition to the gel, just in case, so we don’t know for sure exactly how effective the gel would be when used on its own.

Don’t get us wrong—there’s plenty to be excited about:

  • This was the first test of a male hormonal birth control method that could be a DIY/at-home affair. So far, the other male hormonal methods that have been tested here require visits to a doctor’s office every 6-8 weeks for shots.
  • The progestin used in this gel is called Nesterone. It’s one of the newer progestins and may be more effective in a male hormonal contraceptive than the other progestins that have been tested.
  • Other research has shown that male hormonal contraceptives are reliably reversible, with full fertility returning in about 3 months. Same goes for this gel.

But the gel isn’t ready for prime-time yet. Just under 90 percent of the volunteers had the target low sperm count—the other 10 percent didn’t respond well, and researchers are still working on understanding why. Only about 60 percent of the volunteers in the study made it through at least 5 months of the study. It’s not clear why the others dropped out—for that, we have to wait for rest of the study results to be published. In any case, the gel needs more studies and a review by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before it’ll get anywhere near the market.

In the meantime, we’ll continue crossing our fingers—but not holding our breath—as we add this to the list of promising, far-from-available birth control methods for dudes.

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Jasper Perry-Anderson

Equating sex with gender, as this article does, contributes to transphobia. Do not use "men", "males", "dudes", as synonymous with "individuals who produce sperm", say "individuals who produce sperm", or maybe "people with testicles". I expected better of you, Care2, as much of your coverage in the past has been supportive of transgender people.

Ganaisha Calvin
Ganaisha Calvin1 years ago

interesting. but i don't think i would have my husband try it.

Scott haakon
Scott haakon2 years ago

There are other male contraceptive being worked on. But I cannot really see any type of birth control that is not "foolproof". People forget.

Ruth Massey
Ruth Massey3 years ago

i can't wait for this this birth control gel to come out! I'll have my boyfriend take it so he can see what hormonal feels like when on birth control muahahaha :)

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson3 years ago

if it works i say go for it! anything to keep people who arent ready for kids from having them

Aud N.
Aud nordby3 years ago


Emily Drew
Emily Drew3 years ago

Sounds kinda scary....

Elaine A.
Elaine Al Meqdad3 years ago

No woman in her right mind should ever allow herself the dependency on a man for their own protection from an unwanted pregnancy. That's the problem with women now!

Rhonda Bird
Rhonda B.3 years ago

I don't think this is healthy.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.3 years ago

good news