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KU doctors looking for men to try male birth control

Since 1960, the pressure of not getting pregnant has fallen on the shoulders of women. Now, it’s being put on men with doctors saying its time for men to take r...

KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -- Researchers at the University of Kansas are conducting a clinical trial for a form of male birth control and are now looking for couples to test it out.

Since 1960, the pressure of not getting pregnant has fallen on the shoulders of women. Now, it’s being put on men.

The birth control comes in the form of a gel applied to a man’s shoulder or arm daily. It’s a mix of testosterone and progestin.

Doctors told KCTV5 News the goal is for the gel to be 100% effective, 100% reversible and 100% free of side-effects. So far, they say the results are very promising.

Dr. Ajay Nagia director of male reproductive health at the University of Kansas says it’s about time for men to take responsibility for sexual health.

“Let the man do the work," Nagia said. "This is a hormonal therapy. Men have only had vasectomy and condoms... the world is changing."

Nagia said men would keep their sex drive while using the gel and when couples are ready to have kids, the man would just stop using the gel to return his sperm count back to normal.

KU is looking for serious couples to take part. As a couple, you have to be open to the idea of having kids and must have dated each other for at least a year. That’s because in clinical trials, the product isn’t guaranteed to work – so you may end up pregnant.

KCTV5’s Joe Chiodo talked with people to hear what they thought of the gel.

"I think it’s great. Men should be just as responsible as ladies,” said Leslie Friday.

Friday has eight kids. She said she doesn’t want anymore, so birth control is needed. But, she’s never been able to take it. Many women are in that position, even more have negative reactions to the pill.

“I am part of that 1% in which they don’t work for,” she explained.

But maybe it would work for her partner.

The gel, does raise at least one concern for couples.

Chiodo asked women, “Is there any part of you that worries ... could a guy be responsible to take this everyday?”

Women answered, “Absolutely, absolutely.”

Doctors, too, admit that is a concern. Women would likely often be reminding their man to use the gel. But, in the end, doctors say it would create a shared responsibility that doesn’t exist today. In most relationships, the responsibility to prevent unwanted pregnancy falls on the woman.

“The reason there are so many abused or homeless or mistreated children is because they weren’t desired from the start,” Friday said.

There are only three places in the United States testing the gel right now: Kansas, Los Angeles and Seattle.

“I think we are underestimating the interest of men in these things. To say men wouldn't do it…is false," Dr. Stephanie Page with the University of Washington said.

Chiodo asked men in Kansas City if they would try it.

“I’d be open to it," one responded.

“Yeah, you don’t have to worry about a condom,” another explained.

Doctors say if you’re in a steady, serious relationship and both partners have been tested, that is a benefit. But, if a single man was to ever use the gel, they would still encourage condom use to prevent disease.

The gel is about more than just convenience though.

Nagia says 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, about 3 million people in the U.S. Half of those end up being unwanted.

“Now, whether or not that leads to the debate of abortion or giving up their children is very controversial," Nagia said.

The pill works in preventing pregnancy about 91% of the time and condoms are even worse at 82%, according to the CDC. Doctors hope this gel could change that.

So far the gel is showing great promise. None of the participating couples have gotten pregnant.

KU is still looking for more couples to sign up. If you’re interested click here. Couples who participate receive $4,000.