Kampala — Health experts in Uganda have joined their American counterparts to advocate for an alternative birth control method for men other than male condoms.
Currently, men only have condoms as the available contraceptive option and Vasectomy as a permanent contraceptive unlike women who have a cocktail of options including vaginal ring, Diaphragm, pills, and female condoms among others.
The experts were speaking in reference to the latest breakthrough by American scientists who came up with a new prototype pill called dimethandrolone undecanoate (DMAU) which reduces levels of hormones including testosterone that are necessary for sperm production.
Dr Dan Aniku, a gynaecologist at Kawempe General Hospital, yesterday said the pill will increase the male participation in reproductive health programmes to ensure they only have a manageable size of family as long as they are provided with adequate information.
"It should be able to help but the contraceptive uptake is generally low. But even then, more health information is needed because when such innovations come, people start developing myths that will discourage them," Dr Aniku noted.
Once the contraceptive pill is launched and adequate information is given to individuals by health workers, men will be happy to embrace it, according to Dr Milton Awudo, the medical director of Marie Stopes Uganda, said.
Marie Stopes is a non-governmental organisation which provides contraception and safe abortions to women.
"Much as some women may want family planning, in cases where they do not want, men will be left with an alternative," Dr Awudo said.
The research unveiled in March this year was spearheaded by the Endocrine Society, a US-based-association for the Study of Internal Secretions dedicated to Hormone Research and the Clinical Practice of Endocrinology.
"Scientists have been working on a male contraceptive for decades... DMAU shows great promise," says Monica Laronda, a reproductive endocrinologist at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, who was not involved in the research.
The researchers also indicated that none of the 83 men who participated and completed the one month treatment suffered troubling symptoms that can arise with a dramatic drop in testosterone.
In Uganda, only 20.4 per cent of Ugandan women use modern contraceptive method while teenage pregnancy is high at 24 per cent, resulting in unsafe abortions that account for an estimated 28 per cent of maternal deaths annually according to Ministry of Health.