A Bitter Pill: Slow Progress Toward a Male Contraceptive

18

Scientists have called the contraceptive pill one of the most important inventions of the twentieth century. Now, more than fifty years after the Pill was first released, contraception remains a woman’s world.

Sure, men can use condoms or have a vasectomy, but women have a much more dizzying array of options from which to choose. From pills to contraceptive vaginal rings to intrauterine devices and more, most scientists and pharmaceutical companies have focused their contraception efforts on women.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Many reproductive health scientists say that we need more, not fewer, options for contraception. The problem is that virtually all contraception is being geared toward women. That’s largely because, historically, contraception was grouped in with the traditional female concerns of family and childbearing.

“There are a fair number of women who are dissatisfied with their current method of contraception,” said Michael O’Rand, a biologist and male contraception expert at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In recent years, however, attitudes have been shifting. Men are expressing more and more willingness and even desire to take on some of the responsibilities of contraception. Cross-cultural surveys reveal that men are willing to take contraception and, at least in committed relationships, females would trust their partner to take the drug.

Written By: Carrie Arnold
continue to source article at blogs.discovermagazine.com

18 COMMENTS

  1. Yep.For too long women have borne( no pun intended) the brunt of the burden for preventing pregnancy.In addition to pregnancies, childbirth and child- rearing they have had to swallow daily pills, wear intra-uterine devices or opt for sterilization.The men however, could waltz off scotfree.

    Now,I am not picking on all men. I am aware that there are many fairminded men out there who would be more than willing to share this responsibility with their wives and partners. My husband being one of them. After our second child was born, he opted for a vasectomy as he felt that I had done my fair share and he wanted to do his bit. I admire him tremendously for this act of thoughtfulness.

    I am glad that consciousness is being raised in this area. Much as I admire scientists, they have not been fair here. I do thank them for freeing women from the tyranny of biology. What a boon! They could however have developed a pill for men.

    I suppose some poor women will need to continue on the pill as some men may refuse to take them and some may prove tardy, but it’s still wonderful that progress however slow, is at work here.

    • In reply to #2 by Christiana Magdalene Moodley:

      Now,I am not picking on all men. I am aware that there are many fairminded men out there who would be more than willing to share this responsibility with their wives and partners.

      Don’t forget there are already highly effective male contraceptives.

      Michael

      • True :)n reply to #3 by mmurray:

        In reply to #2 by Christiana Magdalene Moodley:

        Now,I am not picking on all men. I am aware that there are many fairminded men out there who would be more than willing to share this responsibility with their wives and partners.

        Don’t forget there are already highly effective male contraceptives….

      • In reply to #3 by mmurray:

        Don’t forget there are already highly effective male contraceptives….

        Perhaps, but they do not have to deal with side effects of chemical substances that contraceptive female pills (hormones) have on women body. We have seen throughout history that the notion of equality is something very strange to men. :) Lovely comment Moodley. :)

        • In reply to #5 by Modesti:

          In reply to #3 by mmurray:

          Don’t forget there are already highly effective male contraceptives….

          Perhaps, but they do not have to deal with side effects of chemical substances that contraceptive female pills (hormones) have on women body. We have seen throughout history that the notion of equality is something very strange to men. :) Lovely comment Moodley. :)

          My point was that men could already be doing their share of the contraception. We don’t have to wait for some magical male pill. I did. Exactly because of the side effect issue.

          Michael

  2. A male pill is long overdue. In truth though both may have issues of trust with the other to have “taken their pill”. With a male pill both could now lock the contraceptive door from both sides.

    From the investment community I hear that Bill Gates is putting his money into new super condoms, thinner, stronger and even less permeable by using the cunning admixture of graphene. I strongly suspect if they shape up as planned these could be the prophylactic winner we all want.

    • In reply to #7 by phil rimmer:

      A male pill is long overdue. In truth though both may have issues of trust with the other to have “taken their pill”. With a male pill both could now lock the contraceptive door from both sides.

      I can just hear the breakfast conversation.

      “So you took yours?”

      “No I didn’t, You said you had taken yours”,

      “No I said I hadn’t taken it, you just don’t listen do you … “

      More seriously another advantage of a male pill would be allowing time for either partner to have time off the pill to minimise side-effects.

      Michael

      • In reply to #8 by mmurray:

        More seriously another advantage of a male pill would be allowing time for either partner to have time off the pill to minimise side-effects.

        Excellent point. I’m sure that will probably be a major mode of use.

  3. Unfortunately, as said in text, contraception was always a female concern. Obviously. It was hard to expect responsibilities from men for having impregnate a women. Who knows when this famous pill will be in use, they have been talking of making one for decades, and never have made one. Women can not impregnate herself (not by a support of medicine anyway). Men are primarily the ones who should take responsibilities where they leave their reproductive material. All that women have done throughout centuries is that they had to defend themselves of getting pregnant by irresponsible men.

  4. Ah, but what would the pope think – is there papal protocol for male contraception? Let’s watch for a white smoke signal: a) pope pushes pill b) pope croons “every sperm is sacred”

    Or, maybe the Vatican will simply implode – “but, we’re so accustomed to telling women what to do!”.

  5. Yes, in some long term relationships this might be a good idea. Still, I think few women will trust their men with preventing unwanted pregnancies. After all, it’s not the men who have to carry the fetus in their stomach for nine months and go through a painful childbirth. I don’t say that all men are irresponsible, but if I was a woman I would want to have control and make sure I did not become pregnant. Can you trust your man to take these pills regularly everyday for the years and years? As said, if I was a woman I would not.

  6. “Although condoms are very effective at preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections, they are less so at preventing pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that condoms have an 18% failure rate. This means that 18 of 100 women who typically use condoms during intercourse will have an unintended pregnancy in the first year of use.”

    This sounds very strange to me. One in five women who use condoms as contraception have an unintended pregnancy within the first year of use? I know countless women who do not use other protection than condoms and none of them to my knowledge have had abortions. In my country having an abortion really isn’t a big deal so I don’t understand why they would hide such events. Even if a condom broke a few times, what is the probability that the woman would get pregnant. I mean, most women have to try for quite a while before they get pregnant. Very few get pregnant the first or even the second time they try. According to Babycenter.co.uk 85% of women who actively try to get pregnant succeed within the first year. So according to this study almost as many women who use condoms as protection get pregnant as women who actively try to get pregnant. That sounds very incredible to say the least. First, I am suspicious how they came to this conclusion. Probably by asking the women who had unwanted pregnancies. But, did they answer honestly whether they had actually used condoms all the time? I assume there would be a strong incentive to lie in order not to be regarded as irresponsible. Then, can they truly remember all the times they had sex during one year and that they did not even once have sex without protection? Then, there’s the issue of whether the condom was used correctly. I have personally not a single time in my life experienced that a condom would have broken or in other ways failed. I have actually spoken to friends about this and only a very few of them have ever experienced such an event. Of course condoms are unreliable if they are used incorrectly or if they are left unused in the pocket. But, that is equally true with regard to pills. There is something very strange with this study.

    • In reply to #14 by Nunbeliever:

      “Although condoms are very effective at preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections, they are less so at preventing pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that condoms have an 18% failure rate. This means that 18 of 100 women who typically use condoms during intercourse wi…

      They seem to be the standard sorts of figures quoted around the internet for example on wikipedia. Wikipedia gives two numbers though 15% for “typical use” and 2% for perfect use. I assume that typical use includes incorrect use like putting them on just before the male ejaculates or not using them when they think the women is not ovulating, etc. It’s also a percentage for condom use without spermicidal jelly which means a breakage carries a higher risk. The wikipedia page links to a site which has this table.

      Michael

      • In reply to #15 by mmurray:

        In reply to #14 by Nunbeliever:

        “Although condoms are very effective at preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections, they are less so at preventing pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that condoms have an 18% failure rate. This means that 18 of 100 women who typically…

        Oh, thanks… I will check out those links… :)

  7. In today’s landscape you’re a bit crazy to have unprotected (no condom) sex with anyone unless you’re in a committed/monogam-ish relationship. But obviously many people do – as a single woman, this is a deal breaker for me. With that said, I wouldn’t trust a man to take a daily pill. Sorry guys…I love you dearly and couldn’t live without you, but you know I’m right :-) The majority of the risk and consequences are still shouldered by the woman. While I can certainly see the value and benefit of a male pill, I can see an awful lot trouble on the horizon.

    • In reply to #17 by SPF:

      In today’s landscape you’re a bit crazy to have unprotected (no condom) sex with anyone unless you’re in a committed/monogam-ish relationship. But obviously many people do – as a single woman, this is a deal breaker for me. With that said, I wouldn’t trust a man to take a daily pill. Sorry guys……

      I agree completely. It doesn’t happen often but I’ve had women that I wasn’t in a long term monogamous relation with assure me that it was OK to not use a condom but I always did anyway and I can’t believe anyone wouldn’t. Also, although I prefer not to use them once you get used to them and especially if uhm other things are going well, I don’t really notice the difference much. Also, compared to wearing a condom or taking a pill that is going to mess with my sperm I would always prefer to just use the condom rather than take the risk of side effects from yet another drug in my system.

      So I’ve never seen why there was much of a demand for this in the first place. Actually, my guess is that part of the reason a contraceptive pill is useful is for the women, there are probably some guys, e.g. spouses, who just don’t want to use condoms or get a vasectomy, in those cases I can see it being useful.

Leave a Reply