For as long as anyone can remember, it has been up to the female to be responsible for birth control. Whether it was taking pills, wearing a patch, using intra uterine devices or even abstaining from sex during ovulation periods, birth control was long considered a responsibility of women. Men, on the other hand were in charge or providing and keeping condoms in their side drawer or wallet. Today, however male birth control from vasectomies to a pill, are becoming more main streamed and popular. And apparently, just in time.
Recently, reports from the American Academy of Urologists stated that more and more single, childless men are choosing to have permanent sterilization as a means for controlling their own reproductive futures. And for many of these men, finding doctors who would perform the procedures on men without children and who are not married, has been few and far between. More recently though, urologists are complying with the wishes of men who want to remain childless.
Just a decade ago, the choice to remain childless was regarded as unnatural and odd. Today, with both men and women getting married later in life, securing financially ample careers, and having a broad range of interests and activities that would be stymied by having children more and more adults are choosing to not have kids. Sociologists, statisticians and even psychologists joined together to form the Childless by Choice Project, which suggests that many people today among 62% are men, have no real desire to have children. Further research showed that around 38% of men only have children to please their female partner, yet truly do not feel inclined to have children.
So in truth, male birth control makes sense. If women have been able to afford the right to choose when, and if they want children, then so should men. While sterilization among men under the age of 30, who do not have children is still quite discouraged, it is happening. And more recently, is the production of a fully reversible male contraceptive.
This male birth control pill, can ether be taken daily by mouth, or can be worn as a patch. It will also be patented in an injectable form, that will last 12 months. Currently the drug is being tested at the Population Center for Research in Reproduction at the University of Washington. It would work by releasing testosterone in unnatural amounts; much like birth control for women releases hormones, to stop viable sperm production.
And so far, the side effects of the male birth control have been slim to none and are no more detrimental to those felt by women taking oral contraceptives.
Interestingly, female oral contraceptives have been available since the 1960’s, but it is not until this year that patented and researched testing has been applied using the same technology for me. If testing continues as planned, and no hiccups in the medications are found, it could be readily on the US market within 5-7 years. The gels and medications by injection, even sooner.
For the most part, men participating in the clinical trials of the drug love it! And a lot of men across the world are excited about having the freedom of choice within reach. There are far too many stories of women taking advantage of men by not taking or lying about birth control, and almost half of all pregnancies in the United States alone each year are unintended pregnancies. Clinicians studying the different drugs have received an immense amount of support from the male population. Even more promising is that in a survey conducted to discuss marketability, around 80% of men interviewed said they would have no problem taking the drug as long as it did not impede their sexual function.
One bonus to the male contraceptive pills is that they are not permanent fixes. For young men that are not in long term committed relationships, this could lessen the worry of impregnating a one-night stand. As time goes on, and when they feel the time is right to settle down, discontinuation would allow for normal sperm production to continue. And note, that just because viable sperm are not being produced, men are still able to reach ejaculation with the new medications.
Just like female oral contraceptives however, the medications would not product against STD’s, and condoms will always be considered the birth control method of choice for avoiding sexual transmitted diseases.
Since women have been responsible for supplying birth control for over 40 years, switching the hats of responsibility may be a tough transition. Since the products for male oral contraceptives are being designed in numerous formats, including patches, gels, and pills there are diverse ways to take them. For instance, the gels injected under the skin and the patches last for around 12 months, while the pill form would need to be taken daily to be deemed effective. For men that cannot remember to put their underwear in the hamper, having the options of longevity methods is certainly a plus.
On many platforms, the introduction of male birth control is definitely a win win situation for all involved. Not only does it equally place the burden of responsibility on both the male and the female, but it also gives men more control over their futures as it pertains to having children. In a world that is changing so drastically, and where the thought of bringing children into the crazy world are worrisome at best, male birth control is definitely a good option for couples and for single men who want to remain childless. Many women, while leery of how well this new contraceptive method will work, are also breathing a sigh of relief with the realization that now men too, can be active participants in contraception.