Contraceptive injections for men are not yet available in Australia or any other country and are unlikely to be available within the next few years. However, clinical studies suggest that the combination of the hormones testosterone and progesterone may provide a safe, effective and reversible method of male contraception in the future. These methods stop sperm being made in most men. Because sperm can be stored in the man's body for a number of months, these methods can be slow to work. They are also slow to wear off once stopped.
Current research on hormonal contraception for men
A large-scale, international clinical trial of a hormone-based form of male contraception was conducted across seven countries, including Australia, with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and CONRAD (connected to Eastern Virginia Medical School, United States).
The study tested a hormone combination treatment to suppress the body's ability to make sperm in a reliable and reversible way. Participants were given an injection of the hormones testosterone and progestogen (a synthetic version of the naturally occurring hormone progesterone) every eight weeks. The study tested how effective this approach was over a 12-month period while carefully monitoring the health of participants. However, this study ended early due to questions about the risks of possible side effects.
Currently, there are no plans for a hormonal method of male contraception to be made available to the public in Australia.
Previous clinical studies on hormonal contraception for men
An Australian clinical study completed in 2003 tested 55 men over a 12-month period. A hormone implant of testosterone was inserted under the skin every four months and an injection of progestogen was given every three months.
None of the female partners of the men who used the method, as directed by the study, became pregnant. All of the participants maintained their normal levels of energy and libido (sex drive).
Suitability of hormonal contraception for men
Male hormonal contraception may, in the future, be a suitable and acceptable form of contraception for some people. However, it would not give any protection from sexually transmissible infections (STIs).
Other medication methods of contraception for men
A number of other non-hormonal methods are being tested. Some of these work by stopping sperm from being produced and will share the disadvantage with male hormonal contraception of being slow to work and wear off. Other methods target changing the way sperm move. These methods would work quickly and be rapidly reversible.
Advantages of hormonal and medication methods of contraception for men
Advantages of hormonal and medication methods of contraception for men would include:
- it would give men a new, reversible and alternative method of contraception that they could control themselves
- it would offer an alternative to vasectomy in men, which is not reliably reversible
- the method would provide an alternative for couples who cannot use certain methods of female contraception, such as the combined oral contraceptive pill
- it would let men share responsibility for the cost of contraception and the need to regularly visit a doctor or reproductive health nurse.
Disadvantages of hormonal and medication methods of contraception for men
Disadvantages of hormonal and medication methods of contraception for men would include:
- it would not give protection from STIs
- for some methods it would take about three to six months to work and about the same length of time to wear off
- for methods that stop sperm from being made, around one in 25 men will continue to make a small number of sperm
- it could raise complex issues about the rights and responsibilities of men and women in relation to contraception
- it would take many years to assess any long-term side effects.
Choosing the right method of contraception
When you are choosing the method of contraception that is right for you, it is important to have access to accurate information and to talk openly about your options with your partner.
It is also important to think about how well each method works, the possible side effects, how easy it is to use and how much it costs. It is important to weigh the pros against the cons and think about how each method meets your current and future needs. The method you choose will depend on your general health, lifestyle and relationships. It can help to talk about your options with a doctor or reproductive health nurse.
Protection from sexually transmissible infections
The best way to lessen the risk of STIs is to use barrier protection such condoms. Condoms can be used for oral, vaginal and anal sex with other methods of contraception to help stop infections from spreading.
Where to get help
- Your doctor
- Family Planning Victoria Tel. (03) 9257 0100 or freecall 1800 013 952
Things to remember
- Contraceptive injections for men have been trialled in Australia, but there are currently no plans for the method to be made available to the public.
- Clinical studies suggest that a combination of the hormones testosterone and progesterone may provide a safe, effective and reversible method of male contraception in the future.
- When choosing a method of contraception, it is important to have access to accurate information and to talk openly about your options with your partner.
This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:
Family Planning Victoria
Page content currently being reviewed.
Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.