Whether it’s in the pre-baby years or after you’ve achieved a full house, for most couples, birth control tends to fall on the woman’s shoulders. While there is a virtual buffet of options available to women, including pills, patches, shots and IUDs, their male partners have been limited to condoms or vasectomies—until now. Scientists are working to create male contraceptives that are safe, effective and reversible, reports the New York Times.
Although it was long believed that men wouldn’t use contraceptives if they were available to them, that thinking has changed, and scientists have been spurred to act by federal agencies now financing the research, as well as women’s organizations and global health groups.
Scientists are looking at a number of different approaches to male contraception, including using testosterone and progestin hormones that signal the body to stop producing sperm, a drug called gamendazole that interrupts sperm maturation, heating the testes with ultrasound to halt sperm production for months, hormone implants, and an injectable gel. A number of the drugs were originally developed for other purposes but were found to be toxic to sperm, leading them to be considered for contraceptive use.
Pharmaceutical companies are still waiting for something as effective as methods available to women and risk-free enough to give to healthy men, but the Times reports that hormones (in implants, injections, gels or pills) may gain approval first, despite questions about their long-term effects. They currently work for about 95 percent of men studied.
Would you want your partner to use a male contraceptive so that you could go off the Pill, etc.? Do you think he’d be willing to do so?