Birth control pill for males will have to wait


Much research is underway to find a safe and effective male contraceptive pill. Though it was speculated that a male contraceptive pill is just around the corner but now people will have to wait more. Researchers have found that hormonal male contraception via testosterone does not stop the production of healthy sperm.

Based on the study involving mice it was found out that a previously developed male hormonal oral contraceptive method (via testosterone) is unable to stop the production and/or the release of sperm.

Ilpo Huhtaniemi from the Imperial College of London in Britain said that, “Our research explains why the efficacy of male hormonal contraception is not as effective as expected and it provides clues on how to improve the method”.

Scientists demonstrated that the male contraception approach by testosterone has an inherent problem – spermatogenesis – where production of sperm from the primordial germ cells does not stop.

They found that administering increasing doses of testosterone to infertile mutant mice did allow sexual function to return at a certain dosing threshold which was expected.

What was not expected, however, is that spermatogenesis also returned at that dose. This suggests that it is impossible to give a single dose of testosterone that allows for sexual function and the suppression of pituitary gonadotropin secretion, but also does not initiate sperm production.

Source: zee news

Male hormones play an important role in female fertility

Several fertility clinics across the country are beginning to administer testosterone, either through a patch or a gel on the skin, to increase the number of eggs produced by certain women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). Women are also purchasing the over-the-counter supplement DHEA, which is converted by the body into testosterone, to boost their chances of pregnancy with IVF.

A few clinical trials support the use of testosterone given through the skin, while others have shown no benefit of DHEA – also used in attempts to slow aging and enhance muscle mass – in increasing pregnancy and birth rates in women who don’t respond well to IVF therapy. Lacking a large and convincing body of data on the topic, the jury is still out as to whether male hormones such as testosterone improve female fertility.

A new study suggests that male hormones, also called androgens, help drive the development of follicles – structures that contain and ultimately release an egg that can be fertilized by a man’s sperm. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the research also details how male hormones boost the production of follicles in mice. Authors believe the study provides potential biological targets to enhance fertility in women with diminished ovarian reserve, who produce few or no follicles in response to IVF drugs designed to boost follicle development.

“There is a raging debate in the reproductive endocrinology field about what male hormones are doing in female fertility,” said Stephen R. Hammes, M.D., Ph.D.,senior study author and professor of Endocrinology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. “Our study doesn’t solve the controversy, but, along with some earlier seminal studies from other groups, it does tell us that we can’t dismiss male hormones. They might actually be doing something useful.”

Using multiple animal models and cell experiments, Hammes and lead study author Aritro Sen, Ph.D., research assistant professor of Endocrinology at the medical school found that male hormones promote follicle development in two ways. First, they prevent follicles from dying at an early stage. They do this by ramping up a molecule that stops cells from self destructing, a process called apoptosis. Hammes and Sen speculate that if a woman doesn’t have enough androgens (male hormones), more of her follicles may be dying and fewer progressing to a mature stage when they produce and release an egg.

Using multiple animal models and cell experiments, Hammes and lead study author Aritro Sen, Ph.D., research assistant professor of Endocrinology at the medical school found that male hormones promote follicle development in two ways.

First, they prevent follicles from dying at an early stage. They do this by ramping up a molecule that stops cells from self destructing, a process called apoptosis. Hammes and Sen speculate that if a woman doesn’t have enough androgens (male hormones), more of her follicles may be dying and fewer progressing to a mature stage when they produce and release an egg.

Second, androgens make ovarian cells more sensitive to follicle-stimulating hormone or FSH, which promotes follicle growth. They do this by creating more FSH receptors – molecules on the surface of ovarian cells that jumpstart the follicle making process in response to the hormone.

When the team administered small doses of androgens to mice that were taking the equivalent of medications given to women undergoing IVF therapy, they developed more mature, egg-containing follicles than mice that didn’t receive androgens.

The androgen-treated female mice also released larger numbers of eggs with ovulation.

The study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: Medical express

Testosterone no hope for early menopause

Bringing testosterone levels up to normal for women who lose ovarian function owing to early natural menopause or hysterectomy is of no good, shows research.

Before age 40, ovaries stop functioning in about 1 percent of women without some obvious genetic abnormality to blame, bringing on an early menopause.

Called ‘primary ovarian insufficiency’ or POI, the condition can spell not only infertility and other physical problems but also depression and decreased quality of life.

Adding back lost estrogen and progesterone helps.

But ovaries normally produce testosterone too which has mental and physical effects.

According to a study by the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, adding testosterone for women who lose ovarian function have not yielded consistent results.

In the controlled study, 61 women used placebo patches and 67 women used patches that delivered 150 micrograms of testosterone a day.

After 12 months, testosterone levels were back up to normal for the women who got the treatment.

The researchers saw no detrimental effects of testosterone but they found no significant improvement either in measurements of quality of life, self esteem and mood compared with placebo, said the study published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

“Bringing testosterone back to normal doesn’t help these aspects of life, suggesting that it’s something other than testosterone that plays a role in mood problems for women with POI,” said researchers.

“This study makes an important contribution toward understanding what testosterone can and cannot do,” added NAMS executive director Margery Gass.

Source: Times of India

Testosterone may make men likely to get the flu, study finds

Just in time for flu season’s peak, science may have figured out a reason why some men make wimpy, needy patients compared to women when it comes to infectious diseases.

A report released today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) links testosterone levels with response to flu vaccine, showing that, as a group, men with higher levels of the male hormone are more likely to have weak, or no response to a flu vaccine, meaning that their bodies don’t mount a strong defense.

In short, they have weaker immune systems than do women, leaving them more vulnerable to severe infections.

“Men are suffering!” Mark M. Davis, the Avery Family Professor of Immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, told NBC News. “They aren’t as resistant. Women are superior. There’s no way around it.”

Science has known for some time that there are gender differences between the immune systems of men and women, differences that can have profound impacts for health and medicine.

For example, while women tend to develop a more robust immune reaction to infection, that strength comes with a cost. Women are much more likely to suffer from autoimmune diseases like lupus, and they are more likely than men to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to have severe cases of viral, bacterial and parasitic infections.

What mechanisms underlay this phenomenon has been somewhat mysterious. The study released today might help tease apart some of that mystery.

The multinational team from Stanford, France, and the University of North Carolina took blood from 54 women and 37 men of different ages, then studied a variety of immune system proteins and cells using complex systems to detect gene expression. Then they gave flu vaccines to these people and checked for any changes in these parameters. Sure enough, men, as a group, had a more muted response to the vaccine.

Thirty-three women and 10 men responded to the vaccine for the seasonal H3N2 flu strain. Twenty women and 24 men did not respond. (The remaining participants weren’t included due to incomplete or flawed results.)

“Lots of male non-responders had high levels of testosterone,” Davis explained, “while the men with lower testosterone levels had roughly equal responses to females. The high-T men were crappy responders.”

When the team completed the complicated genetic analysis, it found that genes involved with lipid (fats) metabolism – such as the manufacture of cholesterol by the liver – were powerfully associated with response to the vaccine. The more strongly those genes were expressed, and the higher the testosterone, the weaker the response to the vaccine.

To Carol Colton, a Duke University Medical Center professor of neurology who studies the interaction of hormones and the immune system, especially their effects on brain diseases, “that makes perfect sense” because our bodies make estrogen and testosterone from cholesterol, a lipid. The differences between men and women, she explained “are inherent, right down to the gene level.”

Why would evolution instill such differences? Davis speculated – and Colton heartily agreed – that higher testosterone in men is anti-inflammatory and aids the healing of injuries and wounds. Males of most species are more likely than females to suffer trauma. “If you’re in a battle, having lots of testosterone is wonderful,” Colton said.

“So you take a hit to your resistance to infectious disease,” Davis said, “but you gain in case of trauma.”

Davis said he hoped studies like this one would help inform scientists and physicians as new immune-therapies, like cancer vaccines, are developed. “There’s been some neglect in this area,” he said, “that I hope our study, and others, will help to correct.”

And for those who got the flu vaccine but still get sick, a prescription antiviral therapy can lessen symptoms and shorten the duration of the virus, if taken within 48 hours.

Source: FCN

Testosterone-heart disease link explained

In recent months, there has been a great deal of contradictory information regarding testosterone. So much so that it is hard for any man to decipher what level is right, and whether seeking an “optimal” level is the preferred course of action.

In 2011, 5.3 million prescriptions for testosterone were written in the United States. The rate of prescriptions has tripled since 2000, and sales reached $1.6 billion in 2011. There has obviously been a lot of marketing for testosterone and low-T syndrome, but what exactly is testosterone is and what would are the benefits of treatment?

Testosterone is a hormone which helps regulate heart function and plays a part in sperm production, bone health, energy levels, concentration and muscle mass. This essential hormone does much more than just fuel a man’s sex drive. The problem is, most men experience a natural decline in testosterone as they age starting at 30, and testosterone supplementation is commonly prescribed to help these men regulate their hormone levels. The benefits and risks of the long-term use of testosterone therapy however, are not well known.

In a new study, the University of Texas looked at 9,000 male veterans who had undergone coronary angiography between 2005 and 2011, a procedure for testing the arteries when people have symptoms such as chest pain or are at high risk for heart problems.

The study found that men with signs of heart problems who take injections of testosterone or use gel containing the hormone had a 30 percent increased risk of heart attack, stroke or dying, compared with men who didn’t use the hormone. The study was stopped early due to higher rates of heart problems in the group receiving the hormone.

It is important to note that all of the men in the study more severe medical conditions including coronary artery disease, diabetes and previous heart attacks, than men in the general population. These risk factors may have been part of the reason testosterone treatments were harmful to them, but more research is needed to know for sure.

It is not hard to see why medical professionals would also be divided when it comes to testosterone treatment. Some side effects include acne, enlarged breasts, prostate problems, testicle shrinkage and limited sperm production. Similarly, once you start on it, you suppress your own production of testosterone and injections become a lifetime commitment.

As is the case with most hormones, testosterone needs to be kept in balance, and your physician can decide what level is right for you since this, too, can vary from man to man, and from lab to lab. A treatment program should be frequently monitored through lab tests, paying attention to potential side effects.

Men with prostate cancer should not receive testosterone as it could speed up cancer growth. Testosterone is not thought to cause prostate cancer, but may speed up the severity of the disease.

Source news.nom