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Male contraceptive gel: UK man among first to take part in trials

By Tania Snuggs, news reporter

A British man is among the first in the world to trial a male contraceptive gel as part of a two-year international study.

PHD student James Owers, from Edinburgh, told Sky News that his partner saw an advert for the project and asked him if he wanted to get involved.

He said: "I thought it was a good opportunity to really make a difference into the discourse about responsibility in terms of contraception.

Image: James Owers, a PHD student, is among the first in the world to trial the gel

"At the moment, men only really have the vasectomy or the condom – and if you want to have kids in the future, a vasectomy isn't such a great idea and condoms are very, very ineffective.

"The recorded failure rate of condoms is 17%, so I was quite keen from a selfish perspective, to get more options and to help develop those."

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It is claimed the recorded failure rate of condoms is 17%. File pic
Image: James Owers claims condoms are 'ineffective'. File pic

He is among 450 couples who will be involved in trialling the gel formulation, called NES/T, which includes the progestin compound segesterone acetate, in combination with testosterone.

It is applied to the back and shoulders and absorbed through the skin.

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The progestin blocks natural testosterone production in the testes, reducing sperm production to low or non-existent levels.

The replacement testosterone maintains normal sex drive and other functions that are dependent on adequate blood levels of the hormone.

Mr Owers suggested remembering to apply the gel every day is not an issue and that the process is "absolutely fine".

He described it coming in a "toothpaste dispenser" like tube – adding: "You just dispense some on your hands and you rub it into your shoulders and shoulder blades, it takes about 30 seconds, dries really quickly, doesn't smell or anything and it's really very little effort indeed."

Researchers also claim that so far, the trials have proved very effective.

The male contraceptive gel is being trialled as an alternative to the oral pill
Image: The male contraceptive gel is being trialled as an alternative to the oral pill

Mr Owers said: "It's actually quite interesting, it takes six to 12 weeks to get your sperm count all the way down and it takes about six to 12 weeks for it to come back up again.

"So it's quite different to the pill in as much as if you miss the pill on one day or in fact, you miss it by 12 hours, there is some non-zero chance that you will ovulate.

"But if I was to miss taking this for an entire week, I would still be clinically infertile, so the risk here is quite different from the pill."

The study is being led in the UK by Saint Mary's Hospital, part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, and the University of Edinburgh.

The project is being funded by the US National Institute of Health and led by the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute and the University of WashingtoRead More – Source

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