Contraceptive efficacy of a depot progestin and androgen combination in men

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Oct;88(10):4659-67. doi: 10.1210/jc.2003-030107.


WHO studies provided proof of concept for hormonal male contraception using a prototype androgen-alone regimen. Combined testosterone plus progestin regimens offer more practical promise, but no contraceptive efficacy studies have been completed. The objective of this study was to establish the proof of principle for depot hormonal androgen/progestin combination as a male contraceptive. We performed a contraceptive efficacy study of 55 healthy men in stable fertile relationships seeking a change in contraceptive method. Testosterone (four 200-mg implants, every 4 or 6 months) and 300 mg depot medroxyprogesterone acetate, im, every 3 months were administered. Once sperm output was suppressed (<1 million/ml for 2 consecutive months), men entered a 12-month contraceptive efficacy period, ceasing other contraception. The main outcome measure was contraceptive failure (pregnancy) rate. No pregnancies occurred in 426 person-months (35.5 person-years; 95% confidence limits for contraceptive failure rate, 0-8%/annum), superior to the first year failure rate of condoms, the only reversible male method. Sperm density fell rapidly, so 94% of men entered the efficacy phase by 3 months, with only 2 of 55 (3.6%) men not sufficiently suppressed to enter efficacy. A few men treated with testosterone implants at 6-month intervals demonstrated androgen deficiency symptoms and/or escape of gonadotropin and spermatogenic suppression between months 5 and 6; after a protocol amendment, all men receiving testosterone implants at 4-month intervals avoided androgen deficiency or loss of gonadotropin and sperm output suppression. Recovery was complete (median, 3.6 months to sperm reappearance and 5.0 months to 20 million sperm/ml) in all but one man with an incidental testicular disorder. Discontinuations were for protocol-related reasons (n = 15) or altered personal circumstances (n = 12), but there were no serious adverse effects related to drug exposure. The first male contraceptive efficacy study using a prototype depot androgen/progestin combination demonstrates high contraceptive efficacy with satisfactory short-term safety and recovery of spermatogenesis. Further studies of purpose-developed products are required to extend the overall safety and efficacy experience with depot androgen/progestin combinations, the most promising approach to hormonal male contraception.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Contraception / methods
  • Contraceptive Agents, Male / administration & dosage*
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Drug Combinations
  • Drug Implants
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / blood
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / administration & dosage*
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / blood
  • Humans
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Male
  • Medroxyprogesterone Acetate / administration & dosage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Sperm Count
  • Testosterone / administration & dosage*
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Contraceptive Agents, Male
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Drug Combinations
  • Drug Implants
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Testosterone
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone
  • Medroxyprogesterone Acetate