7α-methyl-19-nortestosterone (MENT) vs testosterone in combination with etonogestrel implants for spermatogenic suppression in healthy men

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Testosterone with a progestogen can suppress spermatogenesis for contraception. The synthetic androgen 7α-methyl-19-nortestosterone (MENT) may offer advantages because it is resistant to 5α-reduction and is therefore less active at the prostate. This study aimed to investigate MENT implants in combination with etonogestrel on spermatogenesis, gonadotropins, and androgen-dependent tissues in comparison with a testosterone/etonogestrel regimen. Healthy men (n = 29) were recruited and randomized to receive 2 etonogestrel implants with either 600-mg testosterone pellets repeated every 12 weeks or 2 MENT implants for up to 48 weeks. Testosterone concentrations in the testosterone group remained in the normal range. Subjects with 2 MENT implants showed peak MENT levels at 4 weeks with testosterone concentrations of 2 nmol/L. Sperm concentrations fell rapidly to less than 1 × 106/mL at 12 weeks in 8 of 10 subjects in the MENT group and 13 of 16 subjects in the testosterone group with equally suppressed gonadotropins. Thereafter, suppression was not maintained in the MENT group, and 6 men noted loss of libido. Fourteen men completed 48 weeks of testosterone treatment, and all became azoospermic. Hemoglobin concentrations rose, and high density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C) fell in both groups. The MENT group showed a fall in prostate-specific antigen with no change in bone mass. MENT with a progestogen can achieve rapid suppression of spermatogenesis similar to testosterone, but this promising result was not sustained due to a decline in MENT release from the implants. This dose of testosterone, compared with previous studies using a lower dose with a higher dose of etonogestrel, had nonreproductive side effects without any increase in spermatogenic suppression. These data indicate the importance of the doses of progestogen and testosterone for optimum spermatogenic suppression while minimizing side effects.