Feminism,  Health

Male Contraceptive Pill: The Pros and Cons

male contraceptive pill

The University of Washington recently carried out a male contraceptive pill clinical trial. The trial found that the pill can stop sperm production with no effect on fertility. Male pills have been produced in the past, but have never made it past trialling. This was due to the side effects, all of which are common of the female contraceptive pill. When I heard that the male pill may become a reality I was ecstatic: finally, it won’t be the burden of women to deal with contraception. This seemed like a big step in terms of equality by allowing men to deal with the consequences of sex. But as I began to read articles I realised that there were actually many flaws to an idea that I thought was positive. I now remain conflicted on how I feel about the use of a hormonal male contraceptive.

Pro: both men and women will now be responsible for reproductive repercussions.

The introduction of the male contraceptive pill will finally introduce some equality into the process of protecting against unwanted pregnancies. There are countless methods that women can use to take responsibility and not a single method for men (apart from sterilisation, which unless you’re determined not to have kids is a bit unpractical). As the saying goes ‘it takes two to tango’, and hopefully the introduction of a male hormonal contraceptive will ensure that anybody who is sexually active is taking responsibility for themselves.

Con: will men choose to use it?

Female hormonal contraception has been in use for over fifty years and has become incredibly common. 98% of sexually active women in the USA have used birth control at some point within their lives. There is a wide variety of birth control methods for women and this may be considered a con in terms of the argument for male birth control. This is because men may be reluctant to take a pill when women have so many different forms of birth control available. Results from a 2015 Telegraph poll suggested that only 50% of men would take a male contraceptive pill. This suggests that the introduction of male contraception options would not be popular.

Pro: it will result in less unwanted pregnancies.

The only thing more reliable than hormonal contraception is double hormonal contraception. With the female contraceptive pill being on average 92% effective, the possibility of unwanted pregnancies is still very real. Both partners will be able to take sexual responsiblity (a ‘belt and braces’ approach, as my doctor once delightfully phrased it) if a male contraceptive is introduced, meaning that if a pill is forgotten or contraception fails then there is still only a tiny risk of unwanted pregnancy.

Con: will men be trusted with the responsibility?

Hear me out before you start shouting “but women can be untrustworthy too” at your screens. The concern that men will forget/lie about taking their pill stems from basic biology: men can’t become pregnant. Women are concerned over the male pill because a forgotten pill will not affect men, but women risk pregnancy. Women would have to take emergency contraception, again placing the burden of contraception with women. As well as this, the increase of “stealthing” in recent years (the act of removing a condom during sex without the consent of your partner), forces women to question how far they can trust a man who claims to be on the pill.

The idea of a male contraceptive pill is one that I remain skeptical of, but nonetheless, its production alone is a huge step in terms of gender equality. I hope that it becomes widely available and as normalized as methods of female contraception are.

8 Comments

  • Sarah Mark

    I think the male contraceptive pill is huge and of course, will mean that women aren’t solely responsible for contraception but it does scare me what if he isn’t taking it or he forgets, I guess that’s what men have been worrying about for years.

    • chitchatblogxx

      yeah i’m sure it is a huge worry of men too, I think the only difference is that if women forget their pill then it’s their body they’re responsible for whereas if a man forgets then it’s their partners body rather than their own. Thank you for taking the time to read my post!

      • Sarah Mark

        That’s such a valid point! I agree that if I forgot to take my pill It would be my responsibility. I would be glad not to be solely responsible for contraception but I don’t know if I would trust my partner to take it.

  • EarthtoConnie

    I hope the male contraceptive becomes available because there are some women out there that would lie about being on contraception in an attempt to fall pregnant. At least this way the man can have some peace of mind

    • chitchatblog

      That’s definitely true, I think problems can arise from just having one partner be responsible for contraception, so introducing a male pill will offer double protection for couples who both decide to use contraception, and peace of mind for everybody involved.

  • Kieran

    Women are right to be wary of men taking a pill on time. And they would definitely lie about it. But it’s a good idea to have one.

    • chitchatblog

      I think that either gender would be worried about leaving the burden of birth control to somebody else, but you’re right it’s definitely a good idea to have one.

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