Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Pill For Guys?

47 years ago, the FDA approved the drug Enovid for contraceptive use, and "the pill" was born. Since then, numerous contraceptive options have hit the market, but 47 years later, only two (the good old condom and the vasectomy) are used by men. Of course, a condom isn't a long-term solution, and with the potential for misuse, it's hardly the most reliable method, while no single man is going to consider a vasectomy. Contraception has always been and continues to be the responsibility of the woman in a relationship. Women pay for their pill (or patch, or shot, or ring, etc) financially and physically, as every method has its side effects.

But according to scientists at the recent "Future of Male Contraception" conference, there are a number of male contraceptive options on the horizon. Of course, we've been hearing news about the possibility of a male pill for over a decade, and with no approximate date set for the drug's release, it could be many more years before it hits the market.


But if and when it does, I think it will be fascinating to see how it affects relationships. How many men will take it, instead of just continuing to rely on their sexual partner to use contraception? Will fear of side effects turn them off the idea? Will women trust their partners to take control over contraception, or will they continue to use their own methods? Will men approach sex differently if they're more conscious about their responsibility for preventing pregnancy?

I would hope that every couple would be smart enough to want to protect themselves to the fullest extent, having both partners use contraception, but I think it'll take a very long time before equal amounts of women and men are using long-term contraceptive methods.

Do you think the men in your life would consider taking "the male pill?" Would you feel safe giving up your own contraceptive method and trusting your partner to take control?

19 comments:

Kelly said...

I would love to see men step up and assume responsibility for taking the "man pill" but I doubt many will. In terms of the BCP only, it has ALWAYS been a woman's "job" and responsibility. Just like any old-fashioned gender role/expectation, the BCP is a woman's duty. It will take years before that expectation is changed. That, and I truly doubt that men are mature or responsible enough to take a pill daily if they aren't getting laid daily. For them, it's about immediate gratification and immediate results. Women have been conditioned to be more patient with the pill because we know it doesn't work overnight.

Luwanda said...

"while no single man is going to consider a vasectomy"

That's actually not true. Many childfree men (men who don't want children) have gotten vasectomies while still single. It keeps them from having to worry about getting oopsed by a partner.

Anonymous said...

By the time a man would be mature enough to remember to take a birth control pill at the same time every day, they would be too old to have an erection.

Cristina said...

funny one, anonymous. I believe the male pill would be used by guys in a stable relationship because they would have a woman around to remind them! Remembering to take a pill every day is an act of love, and I would not bet on a single man to make that effort.

Anonymous said...

Speaking to all the people who say a man won't bother taking a pill, all the research I've heard about is in developing a shot, a la Depo-provera, for men, not a daily pill. That said, the pill can have some awful side effects presumable for both sexes, and I don't see any reason that in the interest of "equality" or "extra protection" (the pill is already almost foolproof if taken correctly) that both partners in a relationship should take it. Presumably, the person who responds best/can afford it best/is most likely to have perfect usage is the person who should do it.

Alexandra said...

Would my boyfriend take it?...Hard to tell.
Would I stop taking mine and trust the guy to take responsibility completely? Absolutely never!

nadarine said...

hm, I'm a lucky one, then- the bf and I have already discussed making birth control HIS responsibility through either vasectomy or male bc, if they hit the market soon. His rationale is that neither of us wants children, and I've paid for the pill for years now, so it's his turn to take up the financial burden of birth control.

RachelH said...

The idea of "double protection" (or triple - condom, male pill and female pill) is one I can fully get behind. That said I don't thing many women would stop their doses because, gender-biased as it is, women are affected a whole heck of a lot more than men should contraceptive methods fail. Add that to belief that it's already the "woman's responsibility" and the increased chance that a man would forget b/c the impact is less, and you get into one of those "better safe than sorry" situations.

Laura V said...

I don't feel comfortable leaving birth control just in the hands of guys. My partner in particular wouldn't deliberately mess anything up, but he's absent-minded enough that I wouldn't want to rely on him to be the sole birth-control-taker.

And then there are the guys who WOULD deliberately mess up -- I read a very creepy article recently about how a lot of abusers use pregnancy (and sometimes forced pregnancy followed by forced abortion!) to control their victims. Nice.

Anonymous said...

I do think my husband would take it once we were both comfortable with its track record. I would not want him to be an early adopter of an optional drug that then turned out to do more harm than good.

kamo said...

I'm doubtful how many guys would take a pill everyday, but a more longterm/less high maintenance BC might go over better. I have an IUD and I love it, because I'm extemely forgetful and don't trust myself to take a pill at the same time everyday. My insurance covered the IUD, I went to my gyno and now I'm set for 10 years (with a 99.99% effectiveness rate) if there were something similar to guys I think it could be popular.

Kelly Mahoney said...

Yeah, guys say they'll take it ... only if it means otherwise unprotected sex.

Erin said...

Funny you should ask this - my bf of 5 years & I were at target this weekend, picking up my BCP and buying some condoms. (We use both, I'm paranoid! I don't want all of the weight on my shoulders!) Anyway, he said of his own volition, "I wish there was a pill for men, I would totally take it." I'm with him - I would actually trust him way more to remember a pill than I do!

Melanie said...

When I was taking it, the money for the BCP came out of the funds that I share jointly with my husband.

That said, however, my experience with taking pills was SO ridiculously awful (depressed immune system, giant uterine fibroid that I will probably have to get surgically removed) that I have formed the opinion that if anyone is going to take any kind of synthetic hormones, they'd better be Seriously Careful about it.

I've been reading a lot about hormonal BC, and it certainly makes many women absolutely nuts...not to mention bloated, brain-fogged, and uninterested in sex. But some women take it and they are perfectly fine. It's a very inexact science with a whole host of possible side effects...described by one of my friends as "the Russian Roulette of modern medicine."

I can't help but picture that a male BCP (in those who couldn't tolerate the extra hormones) would end up producing something like 'roid rage in men...and I really don't think the world needs more of that, either. Just my 42 cents.

Anonymous said...

I think it would be great for men to take on the responsibility, but I don't think a smart woman would trust most men; at least not outside a long term committed relationship. How many lies do guys tell to get laid? Now here's one they could tell to get out of using a condom too. Most guys don't think the unwanted pregnancy and corresponding child support obligation will happen to them. I'm a family lawyer and you wouldn't believe the men who don't learn their lesson and have 6 kids by 4 women & trust me, they rarely pay their child support.

Ophélie said...

Wow, there are a lot of generalizations about men in these comments...
When I brought it up with my SO, he said absolutely not. Just like I probably wouldn't have taken the first Pill in the 60s: side effects are simply unknown for the first few decades. The first female pills had huge amounts of hormones, and they have now been adjusted. I don't think I would ask him to take something he wasn't comfortable with, and I respect his desire to preserve his fertility at all costs.

Anonymous said...

http://www.pureloveclub.com/chastity/index.php?id=7&cat=Birth%20Control

Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

The problem with male contraceptives is think of the number or sperm it has to inactivate or pervent from getting to the egg...it's a lot. With women the contraceptive only has one egg per month to protect. I don't know much science, so I probably didn't explain it will, but that is why you have never seen a male contraceptive...they just don't really work. Scientists have tried and maybe one day they will figure it out, but I don't see this becoming popular. One- men don't go the doctor regularly like women and women receive birth control from their doctor.

Jen said...

Imagine my surprise when my boyfriend of 6 years brought this up... Apparently he is more than willing to take it once it has been proven effective... and seeing as how he loves routines, I sincerely doubt there would be any problems with missed dosage. That having been said, however, I would still continue to take mine until I were old enough (and in the right financial state) to be thinking about kids.

And I agree with ophelie that there are WAY too many generalized comments here about men! I had no idea you all were so bitter/sarcastic towards men!