How the Male Contraceptive Prototype Pill Can Change Sexual Health

Effective birth control has been around for a long time, revolutionizing relationships and society. So far, most of the contraceptive burden has been placed on women. A male contraceptive pill has been desired for decades. A male alternative would provide more flexibility for couples who want to avoid pregnancy and allow men to play more active roles in effective family planning.

No single birth control option is 100% effective, so male alternatives for birth control would help reduce the chances of unwanted pregnancies. Until now, men have only been able to actively participate in birth control by using condoms. But many couples prefer intimacy without physical barriers, so there is a lot of interest in pharmaceutical forms of birth control, like a male contraceptive pill. Keep reading to discover exciting new developments that could change how birth control is used.

New Forms of Male Birth Control

One of the biggest contraceptive problems today is that almost all forms of birth control target women. To make matters worse, women also bear the bulk of the burden when it comes to the side effects of these interventions. Alternatives like a male pill would be beneficial for several reasons, including providing more effective birth control options and reducing female health complications and side effects.

Some women suffer severe side effects from birth control. If their partners could use a form of male contraceptive instead, then these women would be able to avoid side effects completely. Additionally, some men are not ready to have children and want to be more proactive in avoiding unwanted pregnancies. To be more fair, many men would also like to take on more responsibility for contraception. A male contraceptive pill would give men an easy way to do this.

Doctor with stethoscope giving or showing medical pill, closeup.
A male contraceptive pill has been desired for decades. (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Some attempts at making a male contraceptive have included gels that can be rubbed on the body. These typically use hormones that make performance more difficult. Another innovation is injected into the man’s vas deferens to physically block the sperm from being released. So far, these attempts have not been as reliable or as effective as female forms of birth control.

A promising new direction for research avoids the use of hormones or invasive procedures entirely. One promising example is a drug that stops the sperm from swimming effectively and has proved effective in mice. It is an on-demand intervention, making it extremely versatile. You would need to take the pill about an hour before intercourse and it would stay effective for several hours. This isn’t as good as the female pill because it doesn’t last as long. But it’s better than condoms and has none of the male contraceptive pill side effects of hormonal pills. This would make it a superior contraception for couples suffering from severe side effects.

Male Contraceptive Pill

Many men have wanted a form of birth control they can use instead of putting the entire burden on their partners. A healthy relationship should be 50/50—or, to be more accurate—100/100. Both partners need to be all-in for it to work. The idea of empowerment has typically been used in conjunction with women, minorities, and disadvantaged groups. These groups have been blocked from equal opportunities by unfair power structures, relationship dynamics, and other social and cultural considerations. The advent of a safe and effective male contraceptive pill will empower men to be more responsible in their sex lives. When it happens, men who participate will take a giant step forward towards gender equality.

How a male contraceptive pill could work | John Amory | TED

There have been many attempts to create a male contraceptive pill. In the past, most of them have focused on using female hormones to stop sperm production. One version developed reduced the chances of pregnancy by 96%, but it took six months to take effect, and for many participants it didn’t work at all. Some of the side effects of taking female hormones also reduced the ability of men to perform. The effectiveness of the female pill is 99.9%, making this male pill inferior.

How Effective is Birth Control?

Planned Parenthood is an excellent resource to maintain your sexual health. They have educational resources that can help you choose the form of birth control that is best for you and your relationship. Some forms of birth control are more effective than others.

  • IUDs and implants are highly effective and are very convenient, coming in at about 99% effective.
  • Injectable birth control is cheaper, but it is also less effective, providing only 96% protection. It also requires regularly scheduled visits.
  • Patches, pills, and rings are also available and come in at about 93% effectiveness.
  • Condoms are much less effective. Male condoms provide 87% protection, and female condoms provide 79% protection against pregnancy.

One of the main reasons a male contraceptive pill hasn’t been approved yet is its effectiveness. While many of the solutions developed so far, many have worked. But they haven’t worked as well as those drugs developed for women. Most women and couples will go with the most effective method available. Until a male contraceptive that is as effective as current contraceptives is developed, it will be hard to get people to switch.

Male contraceptives. Pills and condom in the hands of men
Safe sex practices like condoms will reduce the spread of preventable diseases. (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Despite being less effective at preventing pregnancy, condoms have a major advantage other forms of contraception do not have. Condoms provide protection against sexually transmitted infections. If you have sex with someone you do not know, or if you have multiple partners, you should consider using condoms every time. Safe sex practices like condoms will reduce the spread of preventable diseases. Even if you are on birth control, it is important to use condoms if you do not know the disease status of your partner to protect your sexual health.

The Sexual Importance of Contraception is High

Giving men more responsibility and control over their reproductive outcomes will reduce the current burden on women and promote healthy relationships. This will also reduce a lot of anxiety for men and women looking to avoid accidental pregnancy.

I recommend you review your birth control options and see if there is something you can do to make your relationship more equitable. The more empowered you and your partner are, the easier it will be to feel intimate and safe.