Male Contraceptives

As I’m sure the majority of you are aware, the side effects of female contraceptive pill can include anything from nausea, headaches, and weight gain to mood changes, bad skin, or a decreased libido, to name a few. If you experience any of these side-effects, taking the pill can be exhausting and sometimes not worth it.  

It can also be frustrating if you feel expected to take care of things when it comes to contraception because a condom is not 100% effective, and there aren’t many other options on the man’s end of things.  

In recent years there has been outcry for more choice when it comes to family planning. There is a huge market for a new product, similar to the pill, for the male, so that couples have a wider range of options and can decide who will use contraception and ultimately have safer sex. 

Historically, the need for female contraceptives has been greater because pregnancy and childbirth can be dangerous. Men, however, face no immediate danger to their person and there is no urgency for the product to me made, so when it comes to side-effects caused by male contraceptives like weight gain, decrease in HDL, potential impact on mental health, scientists are less likely to take the risk. 

Every so often we see an article online that promises ‘new positive studies’ or a ‘major breakthrough’ in the field of developing a new form of male contraception. But the truth is, there is no new product that will be ready to enter the market, and there won’t be for some time. 

Unfortunately, creating a safe, impermanent form of male contraception is more difficult and complex than one for a female. This is because while a woman creates on fertile egg at a time, a male can produce millions of sperm in a single day.  

AND HERE’S THE SCIENCE 

Currently, all kinds of tests for male contraceptive products are being done all over the world. For example, there have been experiments done in Australia with a pill that simply stopped the release of sperm, like a temporary vasectomy. By blocking two proteins that are involved in ejaculation, sperm is still being created, but it is not released.  

However, this experiment has only been done on mice so far and is far from ready for human testing. Meanwhile, in India, a scrotum injection is being tested that would resemble a reversible vasectomy. However, this too may be years before it can be made available to the public. 

At the moment, the furthest along of all new methods so far is called ‘Nesterone’, a testosterone gel. The product is simply rubbed into the arms and shoulders daily, and it shuts down the hormones responsible for creating testosterone in the testes. However, despite being the furthest along, having done multiple successful tests on human couples, the product will not be made readily available for at least another ten years, all going well. 

There are so many more options being explored today, and so many advocates of the introduction of more male contraceptive methods. Aside from the males who are getting involved in biological tests and willing to contribute more to family planning, as well as groups like the Male Contraceptive Organisation who are ‘working to bring an empowered, choice-maximized world of contraception to people globally’. 

But for now, the only forms of male contraception available continue to be vasectomies, condoms, or, if you’re feeling risky - or just a bit stupid - the pull-out method. (Don’t do the pull-out method).