Male Contraceptive Gels

Male Contraceptive Gels

Male Contraceptive Gels

Male contraceptive gels are emerging as a promising option for men seeking effective and reversible birth control. This development represents a significant shift in contraceptive responsibilities, traditionally shouldered by women. Two noteworthy advancements in this field include the NES/T gel and the Adam hydrogel, both of which offer innovative approaches to male contraception.

NES/T Gel: Hormonal Approach

The NES/T gel, a product of collaborative research by institutions such as the Population Council, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, combines two hormones: segesterone acetate (Nestorone) and testosterone. This gel is designed to be applied daily to the shoulder blades. The hormones work together to suppress sperm production by blocking the signals from the brain to the testicles, which regulate sperm maturation and testosterone production. By inhibiting these signals, the testicles fail to produce mature sperm while maintaining enough testosterone to preserve typical male characteristics, such as libido and muscle mass​ (Life Sciences Intelligence)​.

In clinical trials, the NES/T gel has shown a faster onset of action compared to other hormonal contraceptives. Significant sperm suppression was observed in most participants within eight weeks, making it more attractive for potential users​ (Guernsey Press)​. The gel’s formulation allows it to be absorbed through the skin, and men must ensure they do not shower for four hours post-application to maximize its efficacy. The product is currently in a phase 2B efficacy study involving 450 couples globally, assessing its effectiveness in preventing pregnancy​ (Life Sciences Intelligence)​.

Adam Hydrogel: Non-Hormonal Approach

In parallel, Contraline has developed a non-hormonal contraceptive gel known as Adam. This hydrogel is injected into the vas deferens—the duct that carries sperm from the testicles—using a noninvasive, no-scalpel method. The procedure, performed under local anesthesia, is quick and designed to block sperm flow for a fixed period. Unlike vasectomies, which are considered permanent, the Adam gel is reversible, appealing to younger men who seek long-term but non-permanent contraception​ (MedCity News)​.

Adam’s clinical trials, conducted in Melbourne, Australia, involve monitoring participants’ semen parameters over three years to evaluate the product’s safety and efficacy. Early results indicate a strong interest among men, with straightforward trial recruitment reflecting the demand for new male contraceptive options. The trial’s success could pave the way for broader availability of this innovative birth control method​ (MedCity News)​.

Broader Implications and Future Prospects

The development of these male contraceptive gels addresses a significant unmet need in reproductive health. Currently, men have limited contraceptive options, primarily condoms and vasectomies, which either require consistent use or are considered irreversible. The introduction of effective, reversible, and user-friendly methods like NES/T and Adam gels can transform contraceptive practices and foster greater gender equality in family planning responsibilities​ (Guernsey Press)​​ (Life Sciences Intelligence)​.

Moreover, these advancements have the potential to reduce the societal and economic impacts of unintended pregnancies. A more balanced distribution of contraceptive responsibilities can alleviate the physical, emotional, and financial burdens often borne disproportionately by women. As more men participate in contraception, couples can enjoy improved reproductive autonomy and shared decision-making in family planning​ (Life Sciences Intelligence)​​ (MedCity News)​.

Challenges and Considerations

Despite these promising developments, several challenges remain. Ensuring widespread acceptance and consistent use of these gels will require robust education and awareness campaigns. Men may need time to adapt to daily application routines and understand the importance of adherence to maximize contraceptive efficacy. Additionally, the long-term safety and potential side effects of these gels need thorough evaluation through extensive clinical trials and post-market surveillance​ (Guernsey Press)​​ (Life Sciences Intelligence)​​ (MedCity News)​.

Furthermore, addressing cultural and societal perceptions about male contraception is crucial. Historically, contraception has been viewed predominantly as a woman’s responsibility. Shifting this perspective will involve changing deeply ingrained beliefs and promoting the benefits of male contraceptive methods. Healthcare providers and policymakers play a vital role in facilitating this shift by endorsing male contraception and integrating it into standard reproductive health services​ (Life Sciences Intelligence)​​ (MedCity News)​.


The introduction of male contraceptive gels like NES/T and Adam marks a significant milestone in reproductive health, offering men new and effective options for birth control. These innovations promise to enhance contraceptive choices, promote gender equality in family planning, and potentially reduce the rates of unintended pregnancies. However, achieving widespread acceptance and consistent use will require ongoing education, robust clinical evaluation, and a cultural shift in perceptions about male contraception. As these gels progress through clinical trials and regulatory approvals, they hold the potential to transform the landscape of contraceptive options available to men and contribute to a more balanced approach to reproductive health.