Saturday April 21, 2018

Injectable Male Contraceptive likely to Lower Unwanted Pregnancies

The contraceptive drug for men is a combination of the male hormone testosterone, which can significantly lower the sperm count

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Unwanted Pregnancies
Injection materials are pictured. VOA (Representational image)
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  • An injectable male contraceptive is in development and it would join condoms, withdrawal and vasectomies as an option for men to use to prevent their partners from becoming pregnant
  • It involves a series of injections over several months before the sperm count drops enough to prevent pregnancy
  • Despite the side effects, researchers report that 75 percent of men in the study said they would continue to use the new male contraceptive

October 28, 2016: Although it is still a long way off, an injectable male contraceptive is in development. It would join condoms, withdrawal and vasectomies as an option for men to use to prevent their partners from becoming pregnant. Currently, pregnancy prevention methods typically focus on the woman. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 40 percent of all pregnancies in 2012 were unintended.

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The injectable male contraceptive – which is a reported 96 percent effective – was developed and tested by a research arm of the World Health Organization and the East Virginia Medical School in the United States. A year-long study was carried out at ten centers in seven countries, including the U.S., Australia, Indonesia, Chile, Germany and India.
News of the experimental drug is being reported in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Mario Festin, a medical officer with WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research in Geneva, said the male contraceptive trial was what scientists call a proof-of-concept. “This hormonal combination of testosterone with the progestin or any other hormone that could facilitate the sustenance of the low sperm counts can actually lead to a level of sperm count that could be considered as contraceptive. And it could be done.”

The contraceptive drug for men is a combination of the male hormone testosterone, which significantly lowered the sperm count, and progestogen, a hormone in both sexes that in the men sustained the cessation of sperm production.

The drug suppresses the production of sperm to the point where pregnancy is unlikely. It involves a series of injections over several months before the sperm count drops enough to prevent pregnancy. The shots have to be given every two months to remain effective.

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In the trial involving 320 healthy men between the ages of 18 and 45, the shots caused a variety of unpleasant side effects because of the high hormone levels required to prevent pregnancy. Those included acne, depression, increased libido and pain at the injection site. Festin said depression and increased libido in particular caused problems among partners.

The WHO’s review board, which monitored how the experiment was going, stopped the trial, but allowed researchers to continue to follow the men. Within one year, almost all of the men’s sperm counts returned to normal.

Festin says the male contraceptive injection has to be tweaked before it can go on the market. “So there are other groups that are studying other hormone combinations or other hormone preparations which more or less follow the same study methodology and the same concept of a testosterone and a progestin.”

Jamin Brambhatt, a urologist at Orlando Health Regional Medical System in Florida, said it’s time for an injectable male contraceptive, like the one that’s just been tested.

“Hopefully that will inspire someone to think of something or get a pharmaceutical company or researchers to think above and beyond and find something because there’s definitely a need. You know … a majority of the burden right now is on the female. So for us, as guys, to take a small share of that or more of a share of that onto us, I think would definitely help the overall system.”

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Despite the side effects, researchers report 75 percent of men in the study said they would continue to use the new male contraceptive. (VOA)

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WHO: Nearly 1 Billion People Risk Hearing Loss by 2050

Problems resulting from hearing loss are expected to rise because of a growing and aging population - a population that is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050

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An 85-year-old Nepalese man is seen fitted with a hearing aid, in Kathmandu, Nepal, April 12, 2017. VOA

On the occasion of World Hearing Day, Saturday, the World Health Organization (WHO) is warning one in 10 people globally, or more than 900 million, are at risk of disabling hearing loss by 2050 unless preventive action is taken now.

The World Health Organization reports 466 million people around the world currently suffer from disabling hearing loss. The annual cost to countries in direct health services and lost productivity resulting from this disability is estimated at $750 billion.

Problems resulting from hearing loss are expected to rise because of a growing and aging population – a population that is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050.

ALSO READ: Heart Surgery In Infants May Cause Deafness

Shelly Chadha, a technical officer in the WHO’s Department of Prevention of Deafness and Hearing Loss, says the rise in the aging population does not mean that an increase in hearing loss is inevitable. She says there are many factors besides aging that affect hearing.

hearing loss
In cases where hearing loss is unavoidable, the WHO says people can be helped through technologies such as hearing aids and surgically implanted electronic cochlear implants. Pexels

“These may be factors such as infectious diseases, which we may encounter in childhood – rubella or mumps, meningitis or ear infections. There may be factors such as exposure to loud sounds, to loud music or noise at workplaces. Many of these causes are preventable, and by addressing them, we can reduce or minimize the risk of hearing loss,” Chadha said.

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The WHO reports about 60 percent of hearing loss in children can be prevented. Measures include immunizing children against infectious diseases, screening and treating chronic ear infections, avoiding the use of drugs harmful to hearing, and controlling exposure to loud sounds and music.

It says these devices are of great benefit to the hard-of-hearing because they make it possible for them to better communicate and socialize with others. (VOA)