New Study Shows Women Aren’t The Only Ones Who Can Use Contraception

Gynecology is one of my favorite specialties in medicine. I find it fascinated how the vagina, uterus and ovaries can do such an amazing thing: reproduction. However women aren’t the only things needed for conception, obviously a male is needed too.


For years, it has been a woman’s job to protect against unwanted pregnancies using birth control and tracking our cycles. However there has recently been a change in events.

A new research study suggests that Men can take birth control shots to prevent pregnancy in their female partners. Researchers are still working to perfect the combination of hormonal contraceptives to reduce the risk of mild to moderate side effects, including depression and other mood disorders.

The hormones contained within the shot work on lowering the sperm count in males.

In the study the men were given injections of 200 milligrams of a long-acting progestogen called norethisterone enanthate (NET-EN) and 1,000 milligrams of a long-acting androgen called testosterone undecanoate (TU) for up to 26 weeks to suppress their sperm counts. The hormones were effective in reducing the sperm count to 1 million/ml or less within 24 weeks in 274 of the participants. The contraceptive method was effective in nearly 96 percent of continuing users. Only four pregnancies occurred among the men’s partners during the efficacy phase of the study.

However the injections gave some side effects that made 20 men leave the study. The men reported side effects including injection site pain, muscle pain, increased libido and acne. Also many mood disorders were reported such as depression.

Despite these side effects more than 75 percent of participants reported being willing to use this method of contraception at the conclusion of the trial.

This shot is not available yet but hopefully within a couple years, this may be an option for contraception.


Drug Re purposing for Rare Diseases

Medicine is always changing, reforming and altering. In order to provide the best patient care there needs to be new innovation every day, or else not everybody’s needs will be satisfied.

You may wonder what I mean by ‘needs be satisfied’. Well withing British medicine the word ‘needs’ can be extremely broad. However in relation to today’s topic it means from the normal, common diseases to the rare uncommon diseases.


In the EU if 1 in 2000 people have a particular disease, in order for it to be classified as rare. Also in the UK 3.5 million people live with rare diseases, and due to their rarity, can be chronic and life threatening. Sadly, at the current rate of development, it would take 500 years to formulate new drugs for all of these diseases. However there is something else we can do to speed up this process.


Drug re purposing is discovering new uses for approved drugs to provide the quickest possible transition from bench to bedside. It works in two ways:  identification of candidate drugs and testing of their effect.  Prior knowledge about drugs and re purposing studies has helped us to follow these two steps.

Re purposing studies have allowed us to form intelligent drug screens, which specifically target a small set of drugs thought to act on the relevant pathway.

For example, the re purposing of one of the first monoclonal antibodies which has been re purposed from cancer into multiple sclerosis, acting to effectively boost the immune system to protect against the disease’s degenerative effects.


After a re purposing opportunity is identified, the second major component of a re purposing study is the proof of concept. This is the completion of rigorous preclinical and clinical trials to test the effect of the candidate drug in the patient population. This rigorous testing process will hopefully help us cure more diseases than we could have ever dreamed of.

A massive advantage of using re purposed drugs is that its using known substances, that has been shown to be absorbed by the body and also more importantly, safe for human consumption. This means it saves time and money dramatically.



Can Hot Red Chilli Peppers extend our life-span?

When I came across this research, I was a little bit upset that I am not a spicy food lover, as research has shown that eating some spicy foods, such as chilies may extend our lives by reducing all cause and specific cause mortality. It has been shown that all cause mortality risk is 13% lower with a sufficient red chili pepper intake.


This information was found by scientists Chopan and Littenberg in 1988.  The data they found suggested that hot red chili pepper consumption was strongly linked with a reduced risk of death from vascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke.

During this procedure of gathering data, the two surveyed 16,000 adults  on their background, eating habits and current health from 1988 to 1994, and were followed up on for a period of 18 years. Total mortality rates for patients who consumed chili peppers were 21.6% compared to 33.6% for those who didn’t. Amazing.

The reasoning for this is, that in hot peppers, such as jalapenos, the spicy flavor, comes from a compound called capsaicin. Studies have suggested that this compound can offer many health benefits.


Other health benefits may be that the chilies metabolize fat breakdown and storage for energy in different organs, protecting against plaque buildup, high cholesterol and obesity. This, in turn, can also reduce hypertension and type 2 diabetes, as well as deactivate certain regulators of cellular growth, which could stop tumors. Different types of hot peppers also contain B, C and pro-A vitamins, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects.

It is unknown by how much we should increase our hot chili intake in order to get these effects, however a switch from ham on your pizzas to jalapenos may be a good shout.


Thanks for reading!

What is Trans-cranial Direct Current Stimulation?

Welcome to the new craze. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) involves using electrodes to send a weak current across the brain. Stimulating brain tissue like this has been linked to effects ranging from accelerated learning to improving the symptoms of depression and faster recovery from strokes.   Zapping different parts of the brain has been linked with superior learning of new motor skills; better math skills; better social skills; superior learning and memory; and on the list goes. Also there are thousands of studies have suggested the technique may be useful for everything from schizophrenia and Parkinson’s to tinnitus and autism. Also it has been suggested to be useful for treating depression.


From a physiological perspective, tDCS affects brain function in two ways – by altering the baseline activity level of targeted neurons and by modifying functioning at synapses. The effect on neuron activity levels occurs while you zap; the synaptic influence is a longer-lasting after-effect. Specifically, depend on a whole range of factors, most obviously whether the current is positive (“anodal”), which increases neuronal activity, or negative (“cathodal”) which suppresses it. So as you can see from this, this could potentially be useful.


However, as perfect as this treatment may seem, the effects of brain zapping can accumulate over time and the long-term consequences of this are unknown. Also  researchers studying tDCS are very careful to target specific brain areas. How will you know you’re zapping the right part of your brain? (We don’t know everything there is to know about the brain yet, so how can we be sure the area we’re zapping will link to a certain action?) This is particularly important for left-handers, who can have functional hubs located on a different side of the brain than usual.

My position is, that we should wait longer whilst we research the side effects of the treatment before giving out further treatment.

Thank you.