Male hormonal contraception: suppression of spermatogenesis by injectable testosterone undecanoate alone or with levonorgestrel implants in chinese men
Bremner, William J.
Amory, John K.
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Monthly injections of testosterone undecanoate (TU) act as a male contraceptive by reversibly suppressing spermatogenesis to azoospermia or severe oligoazoospermia in 95% of Chinese men. In 5% of Chinese men, however, monthly TU administered alone fails to suppress spermatogenesis into contraceptive ranges, or sperm "rebound," leading to occurrences of pregnancy during treatment. Since combinations of progestins and androgens are associated with greater degrees of sperm suppression in white men, we hypothesized that the combination of TU and the progestin levonorgestrel (LNG) would result in improved spermatogenic suppression in Chinese men. Sixty-two healthy Chinese men were randomly assigned to one of the following 3 regimens: group I (n = 21) received 4 LNG rods (75 mg each), which were followed 4 weeks later by 500 mg of TU by intra-muscular (IM) injection every 8 weeks for 24 weeks; group II (n = 20) received 4 LNG implants, which were followed 4 weeks later by 1000 mg of TU by IM injection every 8 weeks for 24 weeks; and group III (n = 21) received TU 1000 mg by IM injection every 8 weeks for 24 weeks. Sperm counts, serum testosterone (T), luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and LNG were measured every 2 weeks before, during, and after treatment. During treatment, group II demonstrated a trend toward a greater attainment of azoospermia than groups I and III (90% vs 62% [group I] vs 67% [group III]; P =.09). Attainments of either azoospermia or oligozoospermia (sperm density, <3 x 10(6)/mL) were 95%, 100%, and 86% for groups I, II, and III, respectively (P >.05 for comparisons between groups). Spermatogenesis in all subjects returned to the normal range after the implants were removed. No serious adverse events and no significant changes in serum chemistry occurred during the study. These results demonstrate that the combination of IM injections of high-dose TU every 2 months and LNG implants is associated with marked suppression of spermatogenesis in Chinese men. The combination of high-dose TU every 2 months and LNG implants is a promising candidate for future large-scale efficacy studies of hormonal male contraception in Chinese men.