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Contraception. 2000 Jan;61(1):61-7.

Gossypol blood levels and inhibition of spermatogenesis in men taking gossypol as a contraceptive. A multicenter, international, dose-finding study.

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  • 1Maternidade Climério de Oliveira, Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.


The safety and efficacy of gossypol continues to be controversial. The aim of this study was to evaluate gossypol as a contraceptive pill for men at doses lower than those previously prescribed and in men from various ethnic origin. A total of 151 men from Brazil, Nigeria, Kenya, and China were divided into two groups. Both groups received 15 mg gossypol/day for 12 or 16 weeks to reach spermatogenesis suppression. Subjects were then randomized to either 7.5 or 10 mg/day for 40 weeks. In addition, 51 men were enrolled as a control group. In all, 81 subjects attained spermatogenesis suppression. Only one man discontinued treatment because of tiredness. Potassium levels fluctuated within the normal range. FSH increased consistently. Testicular volume decreased, but after discontinuation, values returned to levels not statistically different from admission. Of 19 subjects on the 7.5 mg/day dose group, 12 recovered sperm counts >20 million/mL within 12 months of discontinuing gossypol. In the 10 mg/day group, sperm counts recovered in only 10 of 24 subjects. Eight of the 43 patients remained azoospermic 1 year after stopping gossypol. All men diagnosed with varicocele failed to reverse spermatogenesis suppression. Gossypol blood levels indicated that sperm suppression occurs independently of concentration, whereas spermatogenesis recovery appears to be concentration-dependent. Gossypol may become a medical alternative to surgical vasectomy when the delay in onset of infertility is acceptable. When taken for 1 year, gossypol causes no reduction in sexual desire or frequency of intercourse. The possibility of reversal, occurring in 51% of the men on this regimen within 1 year after stopping gossypol, is an advantage of this compound as compared with surgical sterilization in many parts of the world.

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