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Male contraceptive shows promise

Hormone gels applied to skin sink sperm counts

HOUSTON — Guys might someday have a birth-control option that rivals the pill. Two gels applied to the skin deliver hormones that knock down a man’s sperm count, acting as a male contraceptive, researchers reported June 25 at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting.

While women have had access to hormone-based contraceptives for decades, men have had few alternatives beyond condoms and vasectomies. In the new trial, scientists randomly assigned 99 men in the Seattle and Los Angeles areas to apply two unlabeled gels to their skin daily. Some men got gels containing testosterone and Nestorone, a synthetic hormone similar to progestin. Others got a testosterone gel and a placebo.  

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