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Volume 13, Issue 4 (July 2011) 13, 579–584; 10.1038/aja.2010.133

Does ethnicity matter in male hormonal contraceptive efficacy?

Niloufar Ilani1, Peter Y Liu2, Ronald S Swerdloff1 and Christina Wang1

1 Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, Torrance, CA 90509, USA
2 Endocrine and Metabolic Research Program, Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, University of Sydney, Sydney 2050, Australia

Correspondence: Dr C Wang, (wang@labiomed.org)


The development of male hormonal contraception has progressed significantly during the last three decades. The ultimate goal is to produce an effective, safe and reversible male method of contraception that are within reach of and can be used by all men globally. This review aims to outline the recent developments in male hormonal contraception with special emphasis on how ethnicity influences acceptability, extent of sperm suppression, and rate of recovery of spermatogenesis. Baseline differences in testicular histomorphology and testosterone metabolism between East Asian and Caucasian men have been reported, but whether this contributes significantly to varying degrees of sperm suppression in response to exogenous testosterone therapy is less known. Testosterone alone male hormonal contraceptive regimens are effective and applicable for East Asian men, and less so for Caucasians. Combinations of progestins with androgens are sufficient to optimize effectiveness of suppression and applicability to all ethnicities. New compounds such as steroidal or non-steroidal selective androgen receptor modulators with dual androgenic and progestational activities are potential compounds for further development as male hormonal contraceptive methods. At the present time, combined androgen and progestin contraceptive regimens appear to be effective, safe, reversible and convenient to use for all men with ethnic, cultural and environmental differences. Further refinements on the hormonal agent, methods of delivery, and dose optimization of the androgen relative to the progestin are necessary. This goal mandates further investment and large clinical trials in multiethnic populations to better define safety and efficacy.

Keywords: azoospermia; male contraception; progestin; suppression of spermatogenesis; testosterone

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