Almost 50 years since oral contraceptives came into place, the option was only available to women but scientist are now closer than ever to developing male oral contraceptive pills.
Contraceptives, also commonly known as birth control are methods used to prevent pregnancy. The most effective methods that have been used for family planning are sterilization by way of vasectomy in men; tubal ligation, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implantable birth control in women. This is followed by use of oral pills and injections. The most common methods however are the use of condoms, diaphragms and the infamous emergency oral contraceptives.
Today, about 17.5% of women between 15 and 44 are on the birth control pill and it doesn’t seem such a bad idea for men to have their own version; thus scientists are moving closer and closer to figuring out a male birth control pill. This would be seen as a step further in trying to reduce global population growth which is almost hitting the 8 billion mark.
In fertile men, new sperm cells are constantly created in the testicles by a process triggered by the hormone testosterone. One of the goals of the hormonal contraception research in males is to find a way of temporarily blocking the effects of testosterone so that the testicles will stop producing healthy sperm cell. All this needs to be achieved without lowering the testosterone levels to an extent that it triggers side effects such as a significantly decreased sexual desire, weight gain and a decrease in ‘good’ cholesterol. It also has to be irreversible, taking into consideration that a man could still want to be a father in the future.
Why do the male contraceptive pills seem like a good option?
1. Excluding condoms, birth control has traditionally been the responsibility of women. Let’s face it, when it comes to the point where you know something is going to happen with that guy and by unfortunate circumstances he doesn’t have a condom, chances are higher in women consenting to sexual activity with the promise of taking the emergency contraceptive pills before the 72 hour mark is up. But why shouldn’t such a form of responsibility be put on the males as well?
2. The tendency to forget to take the pill is a great risk. We are but human and sometimes, as much as it is an important issue, the chances of a woman forgetting to take the pill cannot be ignored. It would significantly reduce the worry and pressure from the females if the male is also on the pill, such that if by any chance one partner forgets, the worry of unplanned pregnancy is reduced.
3. It will be a life-changing experience to have help from the men in the contraceptive department, with methods other than condoms and emergency contraceptive pills. This will be seen as a form of responsibility for men in the same way as women. The Pill as much as it is effective s they may be also have their adverse side effects. Sometimes hormones can go haywire and a lady may experience a sudden change in her moods and also in her menstrual cycle. The risk of getting blood clots from the hormone progestin is also very high with newer pill versions coming up.
4. Condoms aren’t as safe as people think they are in pregnancy prevention. They can easily break or slip during intercourse. Some people are also allergic to latex, plastic or spermicides; all these are components that can be found in condoms and most will refrain from using a condom due to this reason.
This doesn’t mean that condom use will stop. They still play an important role in reducing the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
The question is whether the ladies will believe a man who says “I am on the Pill!”
The new forms of male contraception is coming sooner than we think and it could change lives, relationships and the sexual experience for all of us.