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27th Mar 2019

The male contraceptive pill is long overdue, for both men and women

Jade Hayden

male contraceptive pill

The male contraceptive pill is one step closer to becoming a reality.

Great news all round and for everybody involved.

The lack of contraception available to men has long been the subject of much frustration for males, females, and anybody else who is irritated by not being able to actively take charge of their own sexual health.

Which is why the news that a version of the male pill was this week deemed “safe” by scientists was met with much praise, delight, and sighs of “finally.” 

But the need for a readily available male contraceptive pill goes far beyond the responsibility that has long and often been imposed on women.

Men need more options. More than one, at least.

A few years back, it was reported that trials for an earlier version of male contraception – a hormone-based injection – had halted because participants were experiencing far too many side effects.

These were said to include mood swings, depression, acne, and libido changes – side effects that women on the pill and other forms of female contraception have been actively experiencing for decades.

However, it later became apparent that only 20 of the 320 men who had taken part in the study had actually dropped out.

According to The Cut, the remaining 75 percent said that they would happily continue to use the injection as a means of contraception going forward.

Researchers had also expressed concern about the safety of the injection at the time, as one participant had failed to regain his sperm function after the trial period had ended. Another had died by suicide.

Irrespective of this, social media was awash with the misinformation that many of the men simply “couldn’t deal” with the side effects of non-barrier contraception – and that for that reason, it was probably never going to become a reality.

But if that initial study, and this recent University of Washington one, is anything to go by men can of course “deal” with the side effects of the pill.

And are more than willing to, as well.

Many of the participants in the recent study experienced headaches, acne, and tiredness, with some reporting a slightly decreased sex drive and mild erectile dysfunction. Despite this, none of them dropped out of the trial.

A male pill won’t just take some of the contraceptive burden off women, it’ll give men more of a choice when it comes to their own contraceptive decisions.

The pill can't harm your fertility - but one type of contraception can delay it

At the moment, the only option for men is condoms.

For women, there’s the pill, the implant, the injection, the vaginal ring, the IUS, the IUD, the female condom, the diaphragm, the patch and a few others, probably.

Attitudes around contraception are changing too.

Couples are now deciding to split the cost of the implant, fewer (but still a lot of of, unfortunately) women are expected to foot the cost of the morning after pill, condoms are no longer just something that a man is expected to carry on a night out.

There’s been a shift, and with it came more mature, practical, and equal attitudes towards family planning and methods of contraception.

Unfortunately it did not come with more options for men – and at this stage in the game (2019, nonetheless), there really should be.

According to researchers, we could still be waiting up to a decade before the male contraceptive pill is readily available on the market.

And while that may mean another decade of a less than ideal selection for men, and a continued (but not entire) focus on women’s responsibility, the recent trail results are still extremely promising – and long overdue.