Men shoulder birth-control responsibility in study

A study that tests a hormonal gel contraceptive for men has enrolled more than 420 couples across the United States, Europe, Africa and South America — and is seeking additional couples to participate.

“We know that these methods can be effective for 95% of men, if they're used as directed,” said Dr. Stephanie Page, a professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and the lead investigator at the Seattle trial site.

“One of the really important points about this contraceptive gel, in contrast to some other methods that are available for men, is that we know it's 100% reversible,” Page said. “When men stop using the gel, in six to 12 weeks, their sperm count comes back and they restore their fertility.”

Learn more about participating in the study.

Men in the study apply the gel by hand to both shoulders every day. The clear gel, which looks and feels like hand sanitizer, contains testosterone and progestin — a combination of hormones that suppresses sperm concentrations. Significant side effects have been rare among study participants, Page said.

The study is estimated to run through December 2024, with initial results expected earlier that year.

Download a broadcast-ready story and soundbites featuring Alex Springer and Mel Hopkins, a couple who are participating in the study.

UW Medicine