News Contraception

Male Birth Control: Closer Than We Thought?

Elisabeth Garber-Paul

A male birth control product comes closer to approval for use in the United States.

In February, I reported on a study in Australia that offered men a shot of testosterone in order to reduce the risk of them impregnating a sexual partner. “According to [Sydney’s] Daily Telegraph, studies have shown that the proposed treatment is 95% effective, about the same as the pill for women, and men are able to impregnate three months after they stop.”

And now interest for the product has made its way to the U.S. According to ABC News, “a large study published Monday in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism indicates that science may be bringing us closer to a male ‘pill,’ although the idea of hormones for male birth control still stokes a heated debate among doctors.”

Anything of this magnitude would cause debate from experts over the health hazards. I, however, wondered what men would think of this. In a completely unscientific poll of my male friends, an overwhelming amount (all 21 except one, actually) said they would be willing to use it, provided it had gone through enough testing to prove it were safe.

However, some of the responses made me a bit worried. It should be said that these were generally sexually active men from 21-33, mostly in New York. But some characterized it as a “temporary vasectomy,” and were under the impression that they wouldn’t have to worry about impregnating women.

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This made me pause—would a world with male birth control mean a world where men thought condoms weren’t necessary? Could we end up with the perception that unprotected sex is safe?

Not to say that men can’t comprehend the difference between pregnancy and disease, but as long as sexual education in the country remains largely focused on abstinence-only curriculums, and not on ways to prevent STIs, adding the option of male birth control to the mix could produce some unintended consequences.

On the other hand, what better way to even out the playing field? I grew up part of a generation of women who always had oral contraceptive as an option and generally, when in a committed relationship, a burden. This is one thing I wouldn’t mind letting the men worry about for a little while.

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