According to researchers, Australian men's attitudes to hormonal contraception has found that an overwhelming majority would be prepared to shoulder the responsibility. The researchers, from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Monash Medical Centre, asked the male partners of women who had recently given birth what contraceptives they used and how they felt about a male contraceptive hormone.
Dr Grath Weston from the Centre for Women's Health Research, lead author of the study, felt that the group is likely to be the first ones who would take it up. Of the 160 Australian-born, English-speaking men approached, 120 need to participate and 74 per cent of those indicated they would 'maybe', 'probably',or 'definitely' try male hormonal contraception.
The participants were asked if they would consider daily tablets, a weekly injection and a two-monthly injection. "These are all methods which may have been researched by pharmaceutical companies as convenient times for modes of administration," Dr Weston explained. The most tested method of male contraception is a hormonal suppressant. Testosterone is injected weekly into muscle, suppressing the production of luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone by the pituitary gland. These are the hormones that help drive sperm production.
But this was the least popular mode of administration, with only 1.2 percent of respondents willing to use it. "That was a little disappointing," said Dr Weston. The most popular choice was a daily regime of pills, with 33 per cent of respondents showing a preference for it. This is probably because men are looking at what their partners are taking, and thinking that is what contraception is, Dr Weston suggested.
Men who said they would consider trying male hormonal contraception were also more likely to consider vasectomy acceptable. "I looked at other forms of male initiative of controlling fertility to see if the same men who were enthusiastic about vasectomy were also enthusiastic about taking male hormonal contraception," explained Dr Weston.
"We found it was a significant statistical indicator." The Australian research was inspired by a recent international study, which surveyed 1899 men from Scotland, South Africa, and Hong Kong. The results showed considerable cultural differences. "I thought bugger this, we are not going to base our data on Scottish data," said Dr Weston.
"We don't know if it has any relevance at all to Australian men." The team is now doing a follow-up study looking at migrant men born in southeast Asia and the Indian sub-continent. "We suspect they would have a much lower interest in the male pill or vasectomies," postulated Dr Weston. Those results should be published before the end of the year.
But women shouldn't throw away their pill prescriptions just yet. Pharmaceutical companies are not rushing to put a product on the market, and it is unlikely to appear in the next year or so, said Dr Weston. However, he hopes the survey will disprove the perception that there is no need for male contraception.