"Despite having low levels of circulating testosterone, very few subjects reported symptoms consistent with testosterone deficiency or excess".

The study found that men who took the highest dose of DMAU, 400 mg, showed "marked suppression" of levels of testosterone and two hormones required for sperm production: luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone.

The study included 100 healthy men, aged 18 to 50 years. The drug is being developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH); the group also funded the study, which has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. A team of Australian researchers has been working to develop a novel non-hormonal form of male contraceptive that blocks sperm transport instead of disrupting sperm maturation. The groups who took DMAU experienced weight gain and had lowered levels of HDL, or "good" cholesterol, side effects that Page noted were mild.

Plus the pills must be taken with food or they won't work.

The findings of the research were presented at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in Chicago.

It is yet to be seen whether the drug proves to be a safe, effective contraceptive over long-term usage.

Progress toward a male birth control pill has been stymied because available oral forms of testosterone may cause liver inflammation, and they clear the body too quickly for once-daily dosing, thus requiring two doses a day.

For now, even though the Male Contraceptive Initiative has provided a $US150,000 grant for the scientists to move into the next phase of developing the drug, Dr Ventura said how quick the pill is developed and released would depend on more funding. The researchers said in order for the pills to be effective, they must be taken with food. "Longer term studies are now under way to confirm that DMAU taken every day blocks sperm production". "Testosterone production is blocked and therefore sperm are not able to finish their last stages of maturation", she said.

Following the safety trial, a three-month study will begin in April to determine if DMAU works as a contraceptive. One of the major downsides of this medical innovation - and something which had been an issue before 1960 as well - is that women are often expected to deal with birth control by themselves. She said that studies indicate that men would prefer oral contraception versus injection or gel implant.

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