The Male Birth Control Pill: It’s About Time, or is It?

Photo courtesy of Gnarls Monkey

In our society women are given a larger share of reproductive responsibility than men.  This might make sense to many because men can’t get pregnant.  So, it’s logical to make a woman the gatekeeper of her reproductive health, right?

Yes and no.

Throughout history and across cultures, giving women access to safe methods of contraception have been a good thing.  Contraception afforded women more control over when to start a family in pursuit of careers, and education.  It also prevented forced or unwanted pregnancy.

Young Western women, such as myself, tend to forget that contraception wasn’t always a choice (and still isn’t depending on where you live).  But maybe this amnesia is a good indication that our society has far progressed past viewing women primarily as baby makers.

On the flip side.  We’ve far progressed past viewing women primarily as baby makers.  Two people are responsible for every baby expelled out of a vagina.  TWO! That baby is a whole lot of pressure and responsibility for just one woman.  True it’s feasible to raise a child a la one, but it’s not pretty.

As more dads are choosing to be stay-at-home caregivers and it’s becoming socially acceptable to assume men will be (close to) equally involved parents, it’s timely that the male contraceptive has arrive.  So now men and women can share reproductive responsibilities.

One would hope…

Yesterday, I was disappointed to hear a morning radio discussion between the male and female hosts about the new male Pill.  The conversation went something like this:

Female host: How cool is this male Pill?  For years we’ve had to medicate and be responsible about not getting knocked up.  It needs a fun catchy name.

Male host: I don’t think it’s a good idea necessarily.  I mean guys are so irresponsible as it is.  We can’t even remember to take out the trash let alone a daily pill.

The female host got sidetracked and obsessed about giving it a good name.  However, she did mention that like female contraceptives, the male version will have many options to “get it” such as a shot, gel, patch, or implant.  This MSNBC article talks a bit more about it.

There’s truth to the fact that all men won’t be responsible enough to take the Pill or get their monthly injections.  And there’s also the reality that men tend to visit doctors offices less than women and have a stronger aversion to medicating.  But women also forget sometimes too.  Or as one radio caller said “husbands have to watch out ’cause their wives will secretly stop taking the pill to trap you.” But men can’t get knocked up.  Ever.  So until our society’s men are viewed to have an equally great responsibility over bringing babies into this world, there’s more incentive for women to control their fertility than men.

Pushing the male contraceptive forward is a definitely a step in the right equalizing direction.  Some women might say “no way guys can’t be trusted” and some guys can’t.  But as long as we say that, it will remain a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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4 thoughts on “The Male Birth Control Pill: It’s About Time, or is It?

  1. EL says:

    Thank you for keeping me up to date with the latest health news. If it wasn’t for your blog I would not even know about this. Is the male birth control pill out already?

    • Yuka Jokura says:

      Here’s what the MSNBC article is saying:

      Wang adds that in some countries, a low-cost, reversible and long-acting form of an MHC could become commercially available within the next 3 years. However, she says it will probably be at least 5 years before one is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

  2. Wondering says:

    I can see the significance of finally having a birth control pill for men, but I wonder about possible negative consequences when it comes to STD transmission. One one hand this would be fine for a committed or married couple, but what are the potential risks if men feel they can abandon the tried and true condom when it comes to casual hookups? I believe that condom use is viewed by many young, single adults as a must for avoiding an unwanted pregnancy, and then only secondarily as important for avoiding STDs. This is particularly true of those who “know” that he/she is totally clean, and just want to avoid pregnancy. While the same can be said for the female birth control pill, this just gives the eager guy more reason not to use a condom with a partner.

    • Yuka Jokura says:

      Those are some really good points. Especially about some people using condoms mostly to avoid pregnancy rather than sexually transmitted infections (STI). Hopefully while the male birth control pill is being integrated there will be extra education on STI prevention and condom use. It’ll be interesting to see if these unintended consequences manifest from male contraceptives.

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