Male birth control: Seattle couple opens up about gel study

SEATTLE — Aaron Lockhart has been on male birth control for the last several months.

“I rub it into my shoulder and then I have to let it dry,” said Lockhart, describing the gel he now uses. “Has to be done around the same time every single day,”

He then goes about his day.

"For a long time, you know, men weren't part of family planning,” said Lockhart.

He and his wife Volha Lockhart are part of the first clinical trial, happening in three U.S. cities, to test the safety and effectiveness of a male birth control gel.

"Taking the pressure off women to take it, to remember, but also go through the effort of getting a prescription,” said Volha Lockhart.

The study is led locally by the University of Washington School of Medicine.

"Nobody’s gotten pregnant so far,” said Dr. John Amory with UW Medicine.

Dr. Amory said the gel being tested consists of Nestorone and testosterone and is reversable – meaning men don’t permanently lose the ability to have children.

The gel is designed to reduce sperm production without affecting a man’s sexual drive.

"The brain senses the testosterone that the man is putting on and thinks we've got enough testosterone around,” said Dr. Amory. “So it takes away the signals that would normally stimulate your own testosterone production and your own sperm production.”

The hope is couples will be able to completely rely on the gel after several months of use, though Dr. Amory said more work is needed.

"One of the overarching questions in the field that’s yet unanswered is; why don't all men respond?" said Dr. Amory.

Dr. Amory said they’re still years away from official study results and regulatory approval of a male birth control gel for the masses.

KIRO 7 asked about side effects and Dr. Amory said some men have developed acne and experienced weight gain. Researchers said they have not seen any harmful or dangerous side effects.

UW Medicine is also involved in an ongoing study involving male birth control in the pill form.

"Right now there's just no other option,” said Lockhart. “It is one-sided, so it's nice to have it leveled out and having that other – it's just all about options.”

Dr. Amory said UW researchers are still looking for couples to participate in the male birth control gel study.

Contact Kathy Winter for details: 206-616-0484.

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