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GnRH antagonists suppress pituitary and gonadal function by competing with endogenous GnRH for binding to receptors on pituitary gonadotrophs. We studied the effects of GnRH antagonist administration to men in a protocol simulating a likely male contraceptive regimen combined with a low dose of testosterone. The GnRH antagonist Nal-Glu was given daily (10 mg, sc) for 20 weeks to eight normal men, and a low dose of testosterone enanthate (25 mg, sc) was given every week. Sperm counts started declining during week 4, and complete azoospermia was reached within 6-12 weeks in six of the eight subjects. Subjects 7 and 8, whose sperm counts and serum gonadotropin levels were not suppressed after 10 weeks, were given 20 mg Nal-Glu starting at week 10. One became azoospermic at week 16, while the other's total sperm counts continued declining and reached a nadir of 1.4 million by week 20. Sperm motility and viability in this subject were completely suppressed after week 14. Sperm counts returned to baseline levels 12-14 weeks after the end of Nal-Glu administration. The mean serum LH level of the first six subjects decreased from 3 +/- 03. U/L at baseline to less than 0.1 U/L until week 20, and then levels returned to baseline. FSH levels similarly decreased from a combined mean of 3.6 +/- 0.9 U/L at baseline to below 0.3 U/L after 4 weeks of Nal-Glu administration. Serum mean testosterone levels between weekly injections of testosterone enanthate ranged from 27.4 +/- 5.9 to 4.8 +/- 1.4 nmol/L, but remained in the hypogonadal range (less than 10 nmol/L) for 4 of the 7 days. None of the subjects, however, complained of decreased libido or potency, as assessed by a questionnaire. No systemic or significant local side-effects were observed, other than a minimal reaction at the injection site. These data suggest that complete sustained azoospermia can be achieved in man, without loss of libido, by chronic administration of a GnRH antagonist plus testosterone.