Centre for Reproductive Health

Clinical trial testing male contraceptive gel begins

Clinical trials testing the effectiveness of the male contraceptive gel, ‘NEST/T’ began on 22 June 2019.

James Owers and Diana Bardsley
James Owers and Diana Bardsley are one of the first couples to participate in the trial. Image courtesy of James Owers.

In the UK, this research collaboration is led by Professor Richard Anderson and his team at The University of Edinburgh and Saint Mary’s Hospital, part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust.

A University of Edinburgh PhD student, James Owers (29) and his partner Diana Bardsley (27) are one of the first couples to be part of the trial. Men aged between 18 and 50, who are in a stable relationship with a woman aged between 18 and 34, are being invited to participate. In total, the study aims have 450 couples who are relying on a hormone gel as their sole form of contraceptive for the next 12 months.

The gel contains a specific mixture of progesterone and testosterone designed to reduce sperm production without affecting libido. The progesterone switches off sperm production in the testes and the testosterone offsets a drop in testosterone that this causes. Men will apply the gel daily to their upper arms and shoulders and attend monthly clinics to monitor their sperm count.

Professor Richard Anderson, of the University of Edinburgh’s MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, said: “Previous trials have shown that hormonal contraception for men can be safe and effective. This trial allows men to self-administer a gel, which may be much more convenient and acceptable than needing repeated injections.”

The gel will also be tested at research centres in Sweden, Chile and Kenya.