A team led by David Handelsman of the ANZAC Research Institute in Sydney said they had successfully experimented with the use of two hormones to suppress sperm production.
Handelsman and Rob McLachlan of Prince Henry’s Institute in Melbourne tested the hormone treatment on men in 55 couples and over the course of a year no pregnancies occurred.
The size of the sample, however, is relatively small.
The treatment involved inserting testosterone pellets under the skin on the men’s abdomens every four months and combining this with quarterly shots of progestin, a hormone used in female contraceptive pills.
Handelsman said the final product would be a single injection for men on a three to four months basis, but he could not predict if or when the contraceptive would be commercialised.
“We’ve taken it to the point where we have proved right to the final step that this is the way to go and it will work,” Handelsman said.
“As academic investigators we can do every step up until that point, but we can’t make the product,” he said, adding that drug companies had expressed doubts that men would use an injected contraceptive.
“They are somewhat conservative and don’t really believe that people will use it,” he said.
Pharmaceutical companies will have to continue the research in order to create a usable drug.