Would Men Really Take a Male Contraceptive Pill?

male contraceptive pill

A male contraceptive pill has been found to be 99% effective, with no observable side effects.

The pill, which is non-hormonal, has undergone testing on mice and human trials are currently being planned. It’s designed to be taken daily, much like the female hormonal contraceptive pill, and inhibits retinoic acid receptors in the brain which tells the body to make sperm.

After a month to six weeks of stopping the treatment, the mice in the study were able to reproduce normally.

For some, this is the holy grail of scientific advancement, a levelling of the playing field between men and women, and a long-overdue shift of responsibilities between the genders.

But for others, there will be concerns. Studies have shown that men are willing to take a daily contraceptive pill, but would they actually take it when presented with it? Here’s what the internet says.

Why Is There No Male Contraceptive Pill?

Birth control devices have been around for thousands of years, but we’ve (thankfully) progressed from drinking mercury and using animal bladders.

There has obviously been a will and a desire to prevent unwanted pregnancies, avoid contracting STDs, and enjoy the pleasures of sex without the fear of consequences for a long time.

This is why it’s strange that the vast majority of responsibility for pregnancy falls on women as, you know, it takes two to tango. Women, unfortunately, have the most to lose when it comes to unwanted pregnancies and therefore go to more extreme lengths to ensure this doesn’t happen. Men can also be less than helpful in this regard, with the crime of stealthing or the claim that condoms “don’t work for them” not an uncommon experience.

Male contraception is, however, from a scientific standpoint, much harder to achieve. Women’s hormonal contraception (simplistically) triggers a fairly isolated naturally process whereas processes to stop fertility in men as much more complicated.

There have been attempts for decades to try and create something that targets sperm production alone but many of these have been found to cause unacceptable side effects like liver damage as well as not being totally effective. The hypocrisy that women’s hormonal contraception also causes a wide range of unwanted side effects echoes loud here.

There are also economic factors to consider. Less research and work has been put into this field because the alternatives work pretty well. For those who never want children, vasectomy is an option, although reversing this is not always successful. Condoms, when used properly, are virtually infallible. Then there’s also the fact that women, for the most part, seem to have this area covered and men expect that they will.

As there just isn’t the demand for them, this has slowed progress in this area. Until now.

Would Men Actually Take This Contraceptive Pill?

Studies have shown that men would likely take a contraceptive pill if given one. One-third of British men responded that they would consider taking a hormonal contraceptive in a 2018 survey, about the same as the number of women who currently do in the UK.

A 2002 Australian study on men who had just become fathers found that 86% would possibly be interested in hormonal contraception, with the study authors concluding that most men are open to the idea.

How that works out in practice is a different thing altogether. Men, like any non-homogenous, intersectional group of people, have a wide range of opinions on the matter, from ‘give me it right now’ to ‘no f’ing way’.

One man involved in a trial for a contraceptive gel has said that the treatment did work for him in that it lowered his sperm count, but that he wouldn’t risk unprotected sex during the trial because of the fears around it failing. This concern seems to be a constant amongst men who have been conditioned to use other forms of contraception.

In a callout to men on the subject on Reddit, many users expressed interest in the idea, but a lot suggested that they would worry about forgetting to take it. This appears to be a common theme on the topic, although not an insurmountable challenge as women have to deal with the same issue as well.

Men also seemed concerned about the side effects of the pill, and many expressed an interest in knowing exactly what it does and how it works. Presumably, issues around side-effects would have to be worked out, but there would also likely be a cultural shift towards acceptance if this became the norm. Similar fears and experiences of side effects don’t seem to deter many of the women who currently take hormonal contraception.

Most however seemed more than happy to give it a go, with one user writing that “it would be a d*ck move if I expected my girlfriend to take stuff if I’m not willing to.” Others commented that while they don’t like the idea of a vasectomy, they’d “100% take a male contraceptive pill”.

So, if this totally inaccurate sampling is anything to go by, it seems that there would be a sizable proportion of men who would be willing to take a male contraceptive pill if given the option. Judging by the amount of interest and hype that the story at the top of the article generated when it was released, we’d be willing to bet that any company that creates a working pill with limited side effects would not be short of customers.

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