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Steroids. 2003 Nov;68(10-13):965-72.

Use of progestins in male contraception.

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  • 1Institute of Reproductive Medicine of the University, Domagkstrasse 11, D-48129 Muenster, Germany.


Hormonal male contraception aims at suppression of spermatogenesis to azoospermia or at least to severe oligoasthenozoospermia, incompatible with the ability to induce a pregnancy. The general principle of this approach is based on interference with the endocrine regulation of spermatogenesis, i.e. the suppression of gonadotropins. Since both FSH (through the Sertoli cell) and LH (through the Leydig cell and testosterone (T)) are required for normal spermatogenesis, both gonadotropins need to be suppressed as strongly as possible. In East Asian men this can be achieved with T alone (preferably in depot preparations such as T undecanoate) but only two-thirds of Caucasian men respond with adequate sperm suppression. Therefore, in Caucasian men additional substances such as GnRH antagonists or progestins are required to suppress the pituitary. Over the past 30 years many combinations of various T preparations with different progestins have been tested in clinical trials. Since self-applicable steroid combinations (e.g. oral levonorgestrel or desogestrel with transdermal T) showed low effectiveness, currently injections and implants are under clinical development. Long-acting intramuscular T esters (e.g. T undecanoate), T pellets or implants (e.g. MENT) are combined with injections of DMPA or noresthisterone enanthate or with implants containing levonorgestrel or etonogestrel. Acute side-effects of these combinations appear to be minimal and tolerable, long-term effects need to be investigated.

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