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New Developments in Male Birth Control Pill

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For the last few years, there have been sporadic rumblings regarding the development of a male birth control pill. Since 1960, when the contraceptive pill was first granted FDA approval, birth control has been seen as a female issue. And after 50 years of advancements in contraceptive options for women — different hormone combinations in pills, the patch, injections and even the vaginal ring — there is still no form of contraception for men other than condoms, spermicides and vasectomies.

Researchers at the University of Iowa, however, are making breakthroughs in the development of an oral contraceptive for men that reduces sperm count to zero without causing long-lasting infertility. They have isolated the gene that causes male infertility and are working to harness this into an effective contraceptive pill.

When the male pill is finally developed, it will undoubtedly change birth control for both men and women. For many women who suffer from the negative side effects of contraceptive methods, many of which are hormone-related, it could mean relief if their partners decide to take the pill. Men, on the other hand, would not have as many side effects because the pill would not change hormones but rather would target a specific gene that produces the protein necessary for normal sperm movement.

Dr. Michael Hildebrand, one of the leading researchers on the study, explains how a male contraceptive would function.

“Such a drug is likely to be safe because the Catsper1 protein is only expressed in sperm cells and not other cells of the body, reducing the possibility of adverse side-effects. This approach would not involve manipulation of the gene,” he says, adding that the infertility would be temporary and only last as long as a man was taking the pill.

Beyond the physical implications, the burden of contraception would no longer rest solely upon a woman’s shoulders. Partners that were both using some form of oral contraception would further decrease their chances of an unintentional pregnancy without having to use condoms, though it is imperative to note that birth control pills do not protect against any type of STDs.

What it means most for women, though, is more reproductive control and shared responsibility in preventing pregnancy. While these should be obvious in a society that stresses equality, many men still view women as the responsible party when it comes to contraception.

Once a male birth control pill becomes a reality, which won’t be for several years at best, there will be yet another method for sexual partners to avoid unintentional pregnancies. And with a male component to what has historically been seen as a female-only issue, couples can now share the responsibility associated with pregnancy prevention to take this heavy burden off of women.

Add a Comment8 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

The female pill is far superior to condoms, but no man must rely on their health, freedom and reproductive rights of women a whim. Well, neither the female pill, or the theoretical man may protect against the disease so can not say much for health. As for freedom and human rights, better innovation much more than male pill would be a law that gets rid of the damn ironic that the law permits abortion for women, but the application of the law on child support men. My body, my choice? Fine: your body, your child.


May 7, 2010 - 9:08pm
EmpowHER Guest

I hate that women are in control of the pregnancy factor. The man almost gets no say in birth control but is 100% responsible if a baby is born? fair? i say no. I am very interested in this development. I am considering getting a vasectomy but this would be so much better. I cant wait!!!!

August 12, 2009 - 4:30pm
EmpowHER Guest

As far as I am concerned it cannot come fast enough. As of now, women have 100% control over pregnancy and birth. Only she knows if she is truly taking her pill everyday and at the same time each day. She decides whether or not she will make a man use a condom or not. She decides between abortion, birth and adoption. Since this country will never let men opt out of parenthood like it lets women, the male pill is a necessity in the control of our sperm. The time for male responsibility without choice needs to end, and the male pill is the first major step in that direction.

July 3, 2009 - 5:57pm

My boyfriend is definately interested in this development, which I think is great because it takes some of the responsibility off of me.

He plays college sports, though. I know current birth control pills sometimes have horomones. Will this pill for men affect drug test results if he takes it often? Or are they hormone free?

May 25, 2009 - 11:36pm
EmpowHER Guest

is this pills available in India...... if yes by which mfg and name of pills......

I would like to use this pills

May 8, 2009 - 3:32am
EmpowHER Guest

A possible unintended effect of a male birth control pill may be a reduction in condom usage by promiscuous males, with a corresponding increase in the spread of STIs. Hopefully women will continue to insist on condoms.

Still, this sounds like a very positive development for relationships, particularly where the woman is experiencing side-effects from birth control pills.

April 23, 2009 - 11:39am
EmpowHER Guest

As a man, it would also be a relief. Same story on this side of the fence, we would also have a choice to decide to reproduce.

April 18, 2009 - 8:56am

I think it is great that a male pill is in development. It's about darn time!

However, I'm wondering how many males will actually take it, especially those in relationships where the girl is already on one.

I asked a male individual I know and he said he would not opt to take a pill knowing his girlfriend was already on one and I think the majority will feel the same way. He was also interested on this topic.

However, it is great for males to have options, particularly if they are more casual with the sexual encounters they are engaging in.

April 16, 2009 - 4:31pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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