NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY)– A new kind of birth control being studied at Eastern Virginia Medical School has men shouldering the responsibility — quite literally.

The contraceptive gel is applied to a man’s shoulders once a day to reduce sperm count.

Dan and Kristen Antignano of Newport News signed up for the study through Eastern Virginia Medical School and recently finished.

The couple has been together since they were just kids.

“The running joke is we met we started hanging out and we just didn’t stop hanging out,” Kristen Antignano told WAVY.

They want kids someday but not yet. Since Kristen Antignano cannot take hormonal birth control, they jumped at the chance to take part in the study of a contraceptive gel for Dan Antignano.

“And it forced the parents to stop bothering us for two years, ” Dan Antignano said with a laugh.

The gel is part testosterone and part Nestorone. The Nestorone blocks sperm production. Dan Antignano applied one pump of the gel to each of his shoulders every day.

“It’s like a jelly hand sanitizer, smells like hand sanitizer, feels like hand sanitizer,” he said.

The study is taking place at 16 sites internationally. Dr. David Archer, the lead on the study at EVMS, has enrolled 13 couples for the study locally.

“It appears to be a highly effective product at the present time,” Archer told WAVY.

He told us there have been no pregnancies and no big side effects reported in all sites. Some men have reported waking once or twice at night. The biggest problem appears to be men forgetting to use it.

“I think women, they’re more likely to use a daily product than a male,” Archer said.

Archer said, study wide, about 46% have dropped out of the study because they got tired of the routine.
This begs the question: will women trust it?

“So, I think if this was available to younger single guys, why wouldn’t they be interested — just like young women — wanting to take power in their own reproductive health?” Kristen Antignano said.

During the study, Kristen Antignano can’t use any other form of birth control but once it’s commercially available, couples could overlap contraceptives.

“Plus, the guy may not necessarily know the female that well at that time, so now he knows where he’s at,” Dan Antignano said.

Now that they’re done with the study, the Antignanos plan to start trying to have a baby. Archer said a man’s sperm count will return to normal just weeks after stopping the gel.

The couple hopes the gel will be on the market so they can use it again once their family is complete.

Realistically, Archer said that will be about eight years from now, since a phase-three study will be needed next, and then FDA approval.

EVMS is still enrolling couples for the study through August. If you’re interested, call the enrollment hotline at 757-446-5808.