Women have been enjoying/shouldering the burden of reproductive freedom for over 40 years. It’s time men had a go
The latest in a long list of never-amounting-to-anything male contraceptive options has appeared. The sperm zapper is an ultrasound that promises to temporarily and reversibly turn men’s sperm off. It’s re-opened the debate over who’s most trustworthy, who’s least likely to forget and whose damn responsibility it is anyway to make sure that a baby is not made.
These three issues are the biggest obstacles in the way of a male contraceptive that doesn’t require minor surgery or latex. TT reckons there’s definitely a market for the male Pill so why hasn’t society got behind the trials and scientists who are working to give us a whole new avenue of options?
Is it important?
Well, yes. Given that half (half?!) of all pregnancies in the USA are unexpected (and often unwanted), we may conclude that some women just aren’t that good at this Pill taking lark, and men aren’t wearing condoms. And that means at least half of all foetuses aren’t getting their required folic acid. Bad things, all.
Two million women on the Pill in the UK don’t get on with it. It has a plethora of unpleasant side effects. It’s reportedly making men infertile and changing which ones we’re attracted to. And anecdotally it’s causing hormonal meltdowns right, left and centre. Plus as well as making many of us fat, spotty and irritable it puts the onus for preventing pregnancy firmly on yours truly. But what if there were a male Pill that didn’t affect sex drive or long-term fertility? Would men want to take it? And would you trust them?
Of course, we’re not saying you should believe that guy you met in the pub who says he’s “on the pill” but within the context of a trusting relationship, could this work?
The majority of MailOnline-reading men who commented on an article on this subject claimed that women constantly forget to take their Pill ‘accidentally-on-purpose’ to ensnare their menfolk into marriage by way of baby. Of course this is total bollocks, but it seems many (Mail-commenting) men would relish the chance to take birth control into their own hands.
“Would I be trusted to take it??? Are you kidding??? I’d take two!!” said another, anonymous, commenter and irritatingly over-zealous punctuator.
Over in the real world, a straw poll of males, canvassed scientifically from friends and Twitter, found most of them would be happy to take a Pill. Some positively relished the idea. One said it would be great because his girlfriend wouldn’t have to deal with the side effects of the Pill. What a sweetie.
In general, responses revealed mixed feelings and boringly both sides of the debate are totally understandable.
On the one hand, some women worried that giving up the Pill would erode some of the freedoms we’ve worked so hard to achieve and would prefer to remain completely in control of their reproductive liberty. @spiraltastic summed up the argument, saying, “I wouldn’t. If someone missing a pill means I’ll get preggers, I’d rather it be my responsibility… Maybe I’m just a control freak. Can’t bear the thought of not being in control of it myself.”
While @crookedclavicle had the other side covered, tweeting, “Yeah I would. Big time. Always seemed unfair that something that benefits both parties dumps responsibility on one, The trust thing would presumably (and optimistically) not be an issue in a meaningful relationship.”
Is it likely?
There are a few current studies questing for a male version of the Pill. Some are hormonal, one works on changing the proteins in sperm so it can’t penetrate the egg and this latest innovation – the ultrasound that reduces sperm activity– seems promising.
But in the past, excited claims that a male Pill is just a few years away always seem to be dashed. Male Pills/injections/sperm-zappers have never appeared on pharmacists’ shelves. After every innovation, the Family Planning Association comes over all overexcited, saying things like, “Now that women have such a great range of contraceptives to choose from, it is vital that men have options too.
“More research must be done to make sure any male contraceptive is safe and effective, but it is great that efforts are being made to increase contraceptive choice.”
So where is it?
Let’s make it happen!
There will always be forgetful boys and forgetful girls and there will always be unexpected and unwanted pregnancies. But if men could take an equal share in contraceptive responsibility it would widen our freedom, stop our enslavement to synthetic hormones and give individual couples a better choice. So let’s get behind our boffins. Demand they give us the option of a male Pill, and actually get it out there this time. Nearly half a century after the female Pill came out, it’s about bloody time.
What do you think?
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