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Birth Control for Men: Coming Soon?

May 5, 2009

Sayonara sperm

A recent study on the safety and effectiveness of injectible contraceptives for men was successfully completed and now, scientists say, birth control for men could be coming soon.  This should either excite or terrify men to know this.

The “contraceptives jab,” as it’s being called (possible pun about gender irony??), is a low dose of testosterone that interferes with sperm production and reduces the chance of pregnancy in one’s partner significantly.  Its efficacy almost matches that of the female contraceptive pill and after stopping the injections, sperm production resumed shortly.  A male birth control pill is apparently also in the works.

As a self-proclaimed birth control buff, I’m still wondering how to take all this.  The more options the better when it comes to preventing unintended pregnancy, for sure.  But is this realistic?  Will men actually use and like this option? I don’t really think most men see pregnancy prevention as their responsibility, or at least enough of their responsibility that they would go to any great lengths to pitch in.  I’m not saying they don’t care, I’m just saying the norms dictate as such.

The pending option of birth control for men is revolutionary not just because it’ll be the first of it’s kind, but because it will drive at the very heart of gender issues when it comes to birth control and pregnancy prevention.  They say this will take the onus off women, but that might be a bit idealistic.  I think it’ll take much more than the peddling of a sperm-reducing shot to free women from the yoke of fertility management which is a decades-long and very costly operation.  I’m speaking from experience.

In many places, even condoms — the only real male-focused option now — are barely acceptable.  And yet they’re cheap, pretty accessible, fairly easy to use, and quick options. In communities where more sensitive issues around gender roles and fertility exist, such as men who won’t use condoms because it threatens their manhood or might give their partner “an excuse” to cheat, this new option won’t do squat.

It’ll more likely be the progressive-minded, feminist, well-resourced gentlemen taking advantage of this option.  And while that’s great, it still doesn’t progress the birth control and gender conversation very far.  Thoughts?

  1. Emily permalink*
    May 5, 2009 2:42 pm

    I don’t think that many men would sign up for birth control so soon—it would definitely take a while to get it out for the public to get used to it. You make a very good point about condoms and some men (because of their culture) refuse to use them. I also agree that those who are willing to get birth control for men are progressive feminists. While this is great news, it also doesn’t mean that women should stop taking birth control pills (even though that would be awesome to not take a pill every day). While birth control pills are there to stop pregnancy, they are also there to protect women (for ex: in case of sexual violence). I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Thanks, J. Mack.

  2. Emily permalink*
    May 5, 2009 9:34 pm

    I received this email in the response to the article from a male:

    “This actually looks like some interesting science; however, like the writer I’m skeptical of how well it would be adopted by the general public. Unless it can be shown that men have other positive side-effects from being on the birth control (other than not having kids when you don’t want them); it’s going to be a hard sell to get men to choose to take on the role of being on birth control. Currently women have more of an incentive to choose to bear the responsibility of taking a birth control pill because there are several positive side-effects that come along with taking it (such as reduced acne, lighter periods, and decreased cramping). Unless similarly advantageous side-effects are also presented in the male version, it’s not efficient to have the male taking on the responsibility of taking birth control. Especially because the women will most likely desire to continue to take their birth control for the other positive side-effects.

    When I think it makes most sense for the man to take on the burden of birth control is when a couple decides they are done having children or completely sure they don’t desire to have children. It is far less costly and complicated for the man to undergo a vasectomy than the woman to get her tubes tied.”

    • May 6, 2009 7:17 pm

      Honestly, that guy’s response is incredibly ignorant. Some women have positive side-effects when they take the pill, others have negative ones (weight gain, mood swings, and those are just the relatively minor ones). I can’t even take hormonal birth control because of a family history of blood clots.

  3. May 7, 2009 12:14 am

    “women will most likely desire to continue to take their birth control for the other positive side-effects.

    This is just jaw-droppingly stupid. It sounds like someone has watched one too many Yaz commercials. I took the pill in my early teens (beginning at 14). I was a non-smoker. I was a ballet dancer who took strenuous classes 4-5 times per week. Nonetheless, I began having horrible aching pain in my lower legs after being on the pill for a year or so. This is one of the symptoms noted in the literature that indicates there may be a risk of stroke or blood clot. Yes, at the age of 15, I was experiencing the side effects that supposedly only effecgt 35+-year-old women who smoke. When I stopped the pill, moving to the diaphragm, these aches went away.

    Oh, and about the “positive” effects of the pill: you mean the weight gain? The interference in the natural functioning of the female body? The only “advantage” I saw in it was shorter, regular-as-clockwork periods. Such things were important to me at the age of 14, when I still entertained a lot of hang-ups about the female body and its functioning. Such hang-ups are engrained in far too many girls, even today. As I grew older, I lost those negative feelings about how my body worked. I began to take comfort and pride in how I was meant to function. Those feelings were passed on by myself and my husband to our daughter. She has never experienced the embarassment, the fear, the dread, the feelings of being “unclean” that my generation did.

    Here’s a little tip to the male who wrote to Emily: if you and your fellow males aren’t going to take responsibility, you have no bitch if a woman gets pregnant. If you are fine with random procreating, you’ll also be happy to change diapers, pay child support, provide childcare, etc. The anger I feel towards men who think that way is just overwhelming. These are the same kind of men who won’t have a vasectomy (a relatively simple procedure), but would rather their partners have life-threatening abdominal surgery in the form of tubal ligation.

  4. mariazk permalink
    May 7, 2009 12:31 am

    I wonder if the gentleman above has conducted a consensus of how the majority of women feel towards birth control, because had he done one he would have seen the reality of how most women really feel towards the contraceptives out there. Most of my friends have shifted from the pills to the patch and eventually dropped them both out; not due to the positive, but the negative effects, i.e. Depression, body aches and not to mention perpetual bloatedness.

    It’s high time both genders take equal responsibility in ensuring protection; one can even argue in favor of women on this matter, as they already bear the responsibility of labor, shouldn’t the man take some responsibility as well?

    Birth control comes at a cost and it should be incurred by both the actors. I don’t feel any woman should give in to a man who thinks otherwise. It’s all about fair play.

  5. Yale permalink
    May 7, 2009 11:12 am

    I am said “male” from the earlier comment.

    First, I would like to thank other commentators for engaging in such a vigorous discussion of the recent post on male birth control. However, I’m rather disappointed astute individuals such as you would rather spew disrespectful comments such as “this is just jaw-droppingly stupid” or “honestly, that guy’s response is incredibly ignorant” instead of purely arguing the merits of one’s position. If the goal of the blog is to create a forum on which to discuss gender issues, it is best done in a far more respectful and thoughtful manner.

    Second, it’s perfectly reasonable and fine you would want to share your personal stories of experiencing birth control’s negative side-effects, but the sample size you are drawing from to refute my comments is extremely small and statistically insignificant. I prefer to put my faith in the statistics of large numbered sample sizes…can you honestly say birth control pills would be so widely used and liberally prescribed if an overwhelming majority of women experienced the same side-effects you are using to discredit my comment? My comments were meant to be applied to the population of women as a whole and not on a one-on-one basis. Clearly I understand birth control pills will for certain women have negative side-effects, but on the whole the FDA approved these drugs because for most women these major negative side-effects weren’t present. Under the case where the woman experiences significant negative side-effects, my above argument would show the cost-benefit pendulum to swing in favor of the male taking on the responsibility of birth control.

    Third, regarding mariazk’s statement: “I wonder if the gentleman above has conducted a consensus of how the majority of women feel towards birth control, because had he done one he would have seen the reality of how most women really feel towards the contraceptives out there.” You appear to be attempting to refute my statements by saying I lack having conducted a consensus. However, without seeing any sort of reference the later part of your comment is lacking support. It seems you are making statements based off a fictitious consensus of your own. If you have poll data representative of the population of women to support your sentiment of how women really feel about birth control, I would be more than delighted to read it and then reevaluate my thought process.

    Unfortunately at the current moment I need to return to studying for my medical school exams; however, look forward to further researching this topic and returning to discuss it with the other commentators.

    • May 7, 2009 3:16 pm

      Yale, I’m sorry that you took my calling your statement “ignorant” (meaning lacking in knowledge) as a personal insult. The fact of the matter is that I was responding to the way your statement seemed to be referring to women in general with no qualifications or exceptions (now that you’ve clarified a bit, I can see that’s not what you meant, though I have to add my agreement to what J. Mack said below).

  6. J. Mack permalink*
    May 7, 2009 12:58 pm

    Yale, I appreciate your engagement in this discussion. I think it’s important to hear different points of view on this issue. I would just say that I think the issue is larger and more complicated than simply studies showing positive side effects, or who has looked at what sample size. The reason this issue is so touchy is because it’s more than about taking medication. I would say polls and data aren’t really the point here. It’s about gender interactions and the role that women play in issues of sex and power and who’s in charge. So it’s bound to get a bit sticky…

  7. Emily permalink*
    May 7, 2009 1:53 pm

    I would have to agree with J. Mack that polls/data aren’t the point, either. The point of J. Mack’s argument is that whether it men would actually take birth control if they were given the option, not whether women would continue and want to take birth control because of new birth control for men. I totally understand about birth control having negative side effects (trust me, I’m one of them) but also see the benefit to taking birth control (i.e., not wanting to make babies for a very long time). But don’t get me wrong, I do not desire (emphasis on “desire”) to take birth control, as Yale has assumed. I think that Yale is not correct in that “women will most likely desire to continue to take their birth control for the other positive side-effects.” No woman desires to take birth control—they take it because it’s necessary. Will men take it? We don’t know. Also missing from this argument that many have failed to mention is that we don’t know positive/negative side effects of birth control for men, so that’s almost a moot point.

    Also, I would like to comment something that KD said: “Here’s a little tip to the male who wrote to Emily: if you and your fellow males aren’t going to take responsibility, you have no bitch if a woman gets pregnant.”

    I disagree with you, KD—I don’t think that Yale isn’t not claiming responsibility—in fact, I think he failed to mention is that he himself would consider taking birth control but there isn’t enough info out there. Yale’s argument is based on data and while that’s great and contributes to the discussion, this article is about gender and not particularly science.

    As a side note, I hope to keep this argument where everyone can contribute their views without personal attacks. That’s what GAB is for: to create a discussion about issues related to gender.

    • May 7, 2009 3:19 pm

      Emily, it isn’t strictly true that no woman desires to take birth control. I have horrifically painful periods and, if it weren’t for the possibly life-threatening side effects for me, I would definitely be on the pill.

      • Emily permalink*
        May 7, 2009 4:45 pm

        Right on. I made a generalization and shouldn’t have. I was just trying to respond to Yale’s generalization that all women desire to be on birth control, which is not true.

  8. Erik permalink
    May 7, 2009 2:19 pm

    Where to begin? First of all, pregnancy prevention is absolutely the equal and shared responsibility of both men and women. The fact that some feel the incentive for women to protect themselves against pregnancy is greater than that of the man’s is only a sad testament to how and on whom we passively let the responsibility of dealing with an unwanted pregnancy fall. Any attitude that does not demand equal responsibility for practicing safe and population-controlling sex is, as I see it, so archaic it makes me feel like I’m living in the 11th century.

    That said, here is the basic issue at hand: it should be the common goal of men and women to discover and implement the use of contraceptives which are fair, effective and safe. That means fair for both sexes, effective in preventing pregnancy, and safe for humans in that they have as limited number of potential unwanted side-effects as possible. Now, any and all hormone-moderating drugs will have side effects and these side effects will, de facto, be absolutely unique and different for each individual. The aforementioned opinion that because the use of oral contraceptives by women is widespread is testament to the lack of unpleasant side effects is a complete fallacious argument. Many, many, many drugs that have widespread use have – and will always have insofar as they are hormone moderating – unwanted side effects. This does not mean that people stop using them. As in any decision, people must make a cost benefit analysis of their decisions. I, for example, experience many unpleasant side-effects from the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors I use – many of them similar to those experience by women on birth control – weight gain, mood swings, fatigue – and yet I still take them because, for me, these side-effects are not as unpleasant as life without SSRIs. So too will these male contraceptives have unpleasant side-effects. Testosterone is an incredibly potent hormone and the slightest deviation in its levels in your body will change not only your state of health but, yes, your entire personality (for an excellent dissertation on this, I direct you to the This American Life episode, entitled “testosterone,” devoted to this topic). But, like women, we will be obliged to take them, in fact we as men should demand it of our gender. We should demand that, like women already do, we make small sacrifices for safety, for family planning, for love of – or at the very least our of respect for – our sexual partners. Anything less truly is barbarism.

    As a post script, I believe some of the greatest implications of this forthcoming technology will be in population control in developing countries, where condoms, especially given the Pope’s recent (and completely absurd) claims about their role in the proliferation of AIDS, are scorned. I do believe, and excuse my pseudo-eugenic, Malthusian view here, that the excess of and wildly expanding population is the most pressing crisis facing the world. Anything that can be done to curb this trend should be our utmost priority.

  9. Yale permalink
    May 7, 2009 2:49 pm

    I don’t discount some men would decide not to take the male birth control regardless of the situation, and I’m not trying to support the decision made by those men. The advent of male birth control would be an excellent option for couples where the woman experiences significantly negative side-effects that no longer outweigh any of the positive side-effects. Essentially I’m saying scientific studies have shown “women using an OC reported very high levels of satisfaction (>90%) (Contraceptive use and behavior in the 21st century: a comprehensive study across five European countries. Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2004 Jun;9(2):57-68).” In addition, drug trial studies have proven the safety, effectiveness, and additional positive side-effects of birth control to significantly outweigh the negative side-effects for the general population. In those women who fall under the exception of the general public, I would hope their male counterparts would be willing to take on the burden of birth control (of course given the man doesn’t experience similarly negative side-effects; in which case I hope the couple would reevaluate together other options for contraception). Maybe I’m being a bit naïve regarding my sex, but I think the driving factor of why men wouldn’t adopt the male birth control is because it doesn’t make sense for them to take the birth control if their significant other would still want to stay on birth control for the numerous advantages for women on birth control as cite in the studies. In almost no circumstance would it be efficient use of healthcare dollars for both individuals in a relationship to be taking birth control. Instead the monetary cost of birth control should be shared by the couple regardless of who is taking the birth control. I would rather see the additional healthcare dollars spent (to provide birth control to both partners in a relationship) on providing healthcare to the uninsured or better yet making birth control available to another couple (man or woman) who can’t afford it. However, if the male birth control managed to have unintended side-effects of increased muscle mass, greater libido, or anything else you think a male would value, they will be far more willing to take the male birth control.

    It seems the root of our disagreement stems from what is the limiting factor as to why men wouldn’t take birth control if given the option. It would be an intriguing study to survey women to ask, “if your significant other was on birth control would you change your current contraceptive habits (of course, assuming said female respondent was currently taking birth control)?” Plus, I would add it’s going to be interesting to see how birth control usage rates among women change over time with the advent of male birth control.

    On a sidenote regarding Erik’s comment: “The aforementioned opinion that because the use of oral contraceptives by women is widespread is testament to the lack of unpleasant side effects is a complete fallacious argument.” I believe you are misconstruing the basis of the support for my statements. My statements are not meant to say that the drugs don’t have negative side-effects because of the large number of women taking them. I’m simply saying that the FDA approved the use of these drugs because of scientific research showing they were safe and effective for the general population (clearly this doesn’t mean the drugs a great for everyone). Basing an argument on scientific knowledge is not a fallacious argument.

  10. Erik permalink
    May 7, 2009 3:49 pm

    As far as only one partner in a relationship taking contraceptives goes, that’s all fine and dandy if you’re in a monogamous relationship. Whether or not men should take contraceptives as readily as women have been required to is really, I think, a question for promiscuous men or men in polyamorous relationships. In these cases, it comes down to who has the responsibility to be prepared for an unplanned sexual tryst. It really is quite similar to the “who brings the condoms?” question. From my experience, the answer to that question is: you both bring the condoms. I would say the same should apply to contraceptives.

    What I found surprisingly shocking in Yale’s recent post is his notion that, given this new technology, both partners in a relationship taking contraceptives would be somehow redundant. Its always better safe than sorry – neither contraceptive is 100% effective in 100% of cases – and the costs of birth control, compared to the incredible costs of say, having a child, are relatively small. Of course, this is to say nothing of the value of both partners taking contraceptives to avoid love children from those who like to dabble with others on the side. And no, Yale, I don’t think scaling back on contraceptives is a good way to finance a solution to the health care crisis.

    As for using FDA approval to make the claim that the majority of women do not suffer unwanted side-effects from oral contraceptives, well, that’s a bit akin to saying that because your burger was USDA approved, the cow it came from wasn’t slaughtered in the process (that is to say nothing of the dubiousness of the FDA and their rather sorry track record. I don’t know about you, but my experience tells me that just because the government says it ain’t so doesn’t mean it isn’t).

  11. Emily permalink*
    May 7, 2009 4:47 pm

    Also, another person (female) emailed me about this and said that, “Interesting blog post! I’d worry about the man being responsible enough though. It’s still my body, you know.” She makes a good point. In the end, it is the woman’s body that gets pregnant, not the man’s.

  12. Yale permalink
    May 7, 2009 4:54 pm


    The birth control method such as progestin-only OCs only has a 0.5% pregnancy rate after a single year of correct usage (according to my epidemiology lecture slides). Assuming both partners was to take birth control and the male birth control was just as effective; the new pregnancy rate for the couple would drop to 0.25% ((0.05 x 0.05) x 100 = 0.25%). I don’t believe putting double the financial burden on our healthcare system to have both partners taking birth control for only an absolute drop in risk of 0.25% justifies the cost. Especially when over 45 million Americans don’t have any form of healthcare insurance (another stat from my epidemiology lectures). Excessive redundancy would come at a huge cost; so yes, I definitively do not see the benefit of using double the healthcare dollars while so many Americans can’t even receive a basic level of healthcare.

    Again, you have misconstrued my statements by saying: “And no, Yale, I don’t think scaling back on contraceptives is a good way to finance a solution to the health care crisis.” At no point in my previous statement did I suggest lowering access to contraceptives or decreasing dollars spent on contraceptives. In fact, my statement would imply expanding access by making birth control available to individuals who couldn’t afford it instead of spending the money on excessive redundancy (for reference my previous statement: “I would rather see the additional healthcare dollars spent (to provide birth control to both partners in a relationship) on providing healthcare to the uninsured or better yet making birth control available to another couple (man or woman) who can’t afford it.”). It’s far more beneficial to have two couples with one person in each taking birth control than having one couple double up on birth control to leave the other couple without any reduced risk of pregnancy.

    In the future, please make an effort not to misconstrue my statements as doing so does not further the discussion.

  13. Kaitlyn permalink
    May 7, 2009 5:09 pm

    I am a very progressive-minded female graduate student. Giving men the option to have contraceptive injections or pills sounds pretty cool. However, as a woman who is not ready to go through a pregnancy or to have children, it would take a lot for me to forgo my birth control when a guy tells me that he’s on contraception. It would take a lot of trust for many women to depend solely on the guy to be on contraception.

    I’ve seen some couples getting married because they got pregnant even though the girl was on birth control. With proper use, very (x1000) few women on birth control should be getting pregnant. If I were a guy, I would use condoms until I could trust that the girl was super responsible (with taking her pill) and that she didn’t want to get pregnant.

    Guys can take their contraception to avoid unwanted pregnancies on their part, but I think we girls should keep taking ours. Male contraceptive would be added protection, but I want to be responsible for what happens to my body and my life. I would definitely have my husband go through a vasectomy when we are done having children instead of me having a tubal ligation, but with birth control where proper usage is important, I want to be the one in control.

    • mariazk permalink
      May 7, 2009 5:41 pm

      I agree with J. Mack and strongly believe that the reason why the issue at hand is so touchy “is because it’s more than about taking medication”, rather it is a discussion on fair play and like Erik said; ‘shared responsibility of both men and women’.

      Birth control is a decision most of us, women have to take at some point in our life; until of course a male counterpart is out there, in that regards it is indeed quite a sensitive and well thought out decision.

      In regards to my earlier statement; “I wonder if the gentleman above has conducted a consensus…he would have seen the reality of how most women really feel towards the contraceptives out there”, I was not referring to a statistical poll determining women’s attitudes towards these pills, but rather one-on-one conversations with women to get a feel of how they really feel towards taking the pill. Statistics often filter out real emotions and sentiments, which can be captured through blog discussions such as this one. I agree with Yale in that birth control pills are widely prescribed and used by many women, but it is sometimes more of a necessity than a choice, which is not an option for Elizabeth, further justifying the urgent need for a male contraceptive. Majority of current statistics might even favor the usage of birth control pills, but we should get down to the roots and try and find out why the answer was a ‘yes’ to fully determine its objectivity.

      Why do women get onto these pills? Because of how reproduction currently operates; it is a woman who goes into labor, thus women opt for contraceptives to gain some control and flexibility in choices that affect their present and future. I would like to see the reaction from the other end, if both men and women are able to be childbearing. Would you still discount male contraception on a cost-benefit analysis? Hard to tell until you really are in the shoes of a woman.

      I think the debate here is not whether women widely use birth control or not, but rather what would be the success rate of a male birth control pill?

      Here’s an interesting journal for all of us;

      Would women trust their partners to use a male pill?

      An excerpt from the journal:

      To determine the views of women, we undertook a survey of 1894 women attending family planning clinics in Scotland (450), China (900) and South Africa (544). In all centres over 65% of women thought that the responsibility for contraception falls too much on women. More than 90% in South Africa and Scotland thought that a `male pill’ was a good idea, with Chinese women (71% in Hong Kong and 87% in Shanghai) only slightly less positive. Only 13% of the total sample did not think that hormonal male contraception was a good idea and only 36 women (2% of the total) said that they would not trust their partner to use it. 78% of Scottish women, 71% of Shanghai women, and 78% of white women and 40% of black and coloured women in Cape Town thought that they would use the method.

      This survey should dispel the myth that women would not trust their partners to use a `male pill’ reliably and illustrates the potential market for the method.

      Women were told by the interviewer that it was now possible to produce a hormonal contraceptive for men which would not interfere with male sexual function and which, if used correctly, would be as effective as the female contraceptive pill. In all four centres the great majority of women thought that in principle this was a good idea. Asked why they thought so, over 84% of these women in each centre agreed that it would allow a more equal sharing of responsibility for contraception.

      Thank you Yale for emailing Emily, it has sparked an interesting debate.

      Great discussions everybody!

  14. Erik permalink
    May 8, 2009 1:53 pm

    I would first like to address Yale’s argument concerning having only one partner take contraceptives as a way to help the uninsured afford them. Birth control is very inexpensive. I cannot speak for the rest of the country, but in Oregon oral contraceptives are free for most women (and certainly free for uninsured women), or at most they run at about $4 a month for generics. Both partners taking contraceptives is not preventing access to contraceptives for anyone (again, I can only speak for Portland). In fact, considering that the current population growth in America is much more of a detriment to the already saturated health care system, it would seem to me that the most fiscally prudent move to help everyone receive the health care they need would be too limit population growth as much as possible – i.e. make sure everyone is taking contraceptives. The health care system in this country is completely and utterly backwards – and the solution needs to be much more sweeping than simply saving some money every month on birth control. Uninsured people already receive free contraceptives here in the Northwest – what uninsured people need is a solution when they find out they need chemo at 20K a session.

    I would also like to add that, from my own personal experience – which is in the end far more valuable than some stat (I mean, didn’t you know that 80% of people who use statistics make them up? ha..) – that you absolutely can still get pregnant even if you are taking contraceptives. I would also like to restate that my opinion that everyone (both sexes) who is sexually active should take contraception should apply more to those not in strict monogamous relationships. Obviously if you are in a long-term partnership, you make decisions as a couple which you both feel are the most prudent for your life together. Perhaps its because I’ve lived recently in two extremely sexually liberal towns, but the one-night stand (or hell, the 15 minute stand in the bathroom of the bar) is not unusual. If I engaged in this lifestyle as a man, I would most certainly take oral contraceptives, even if the strangers I was with claimed that they too were on them. Is that not common sense?

    I would like to add one final thought. All of the costs and benefits of both partners taking contraceptives aside, the issue really comes down to one fundamental thing: personal responsibility. At the end of the day, we all have the duty to ensure that the future we desire for ourselves is the future that we create. Unexpected things happen. People cheat on each other. Contraceptives sometimes fail. I’m an Eagle Scout, so I’m big on the whole preparedness thing. I guess, Yale, that I’m not sure why you seem so against men taking contraceptives. It seems like an odd – and no offense rather archaic – attitude to take.

    As for “misconstruing” your arguments, Mr. Yale, I do not believe I have misconstrued them anymore than Heidegger “misconstrued” Plato. Telling someone over and over that they don’t understand what you’re really saying is indeed the nature of most of the dialogue in the Western World for the past three thousand years.

    • Yale permalink
      May 8, 2009 4:28 pm

      Granted you put a disclaimer on the $4 per month figure as being only applicable to Portland; a quick internet search might have been warranted before using such a drastically low figure to refute my claim that birth control isn’t cheap. Several websites on a search for monthly cost of birth control put some of the ranges as high as $50 per month.

      As an Eagle Scout myself, I value the lessons from my teenage years in Boy Scouts. However, I would argue creating a costly redundancy in contraception would be like packing for a snow storm on a camping trip to New Mexico in July, simply for the act of preparedness.

      You leave me quite baffled as to how my stance of not favoring a costly redundancy automatically gets translated into me being against men taking birth control. In fact, you might see that two of my previous statements were: “The advent of male birth control would be an excellent option for couples where the woman experiences significantly negative side-effects that no longer outweigh any of the positive side-effects.” and “In those women who fall under the exception of the general public, I would hope their male counterparts would be willing to take on the burden of birth control (of course given the man doesn’t experience similarly negative side-effects; in which case I hope the couple would reevaluate together other options for contraception).” Since you seem to have difficulty making inferences from my statements let me say, I would be in complete favor of taking male birth control myself if my significant other and I weighed the options and decided it made more sense for me to take it.

      To end, simply citing a 20th century philosopher’s thoughts doesn’t cover up your inability to properly draw inferences from my statements.

  15. Erik permalink
    May 8, 2009 2:19 pm

    Also, it might be interesting to turn the discussion away from debating the categorical imperative of men taking contraceptives to how this new technology could save the world. People talk so much about sustainable development (an oxymoron), when what we need is a sustainable retreat (Emily, didn’t you take Mr. Chamberlin’s class?). I am -strongly of the opinion that the too-many-people-problem is the biggest problem that we face. And because the world isn’t so into, you know, genocide, we’ve got to solve the problem by lowering the global birth rate – something male contraceptives could have a huge impact on. How are we going to be able to use this new technology to curb growth, especially in developing countries?

    • J. Mack permalink*
      May 10, 2009 8:39 pm

      We open another can of worms when we talk about the “too-many-people-problem.” Lowering the global birth rate may be PART of solving that problem…but it’s way more complicated than that — let us not forget. Development of new reproductive health technologies is not a bad thing, but then there’s still the issue of cost, accessibility, usability, cultural attitudes, etc. etc. etc. Women are not going to have fewer children just because they or their partners get access to contraceptives. The status of women and the contributing factors to why women often have large families (lack of economic or education opportunities, high infant mortality, etc.) need to be addressed more importantly. In short, women and their partners need to have a positive, empowering reason to have smaller families or delay childbearing.

  16. Martyn permalink
    May 13, 2009 7:46 pm

    I might be coming in too late to contribute to this debate but I am speaking from the point of view of a male who has no desire for children and has no capacity to deal with them – a decision I suspect I made comparatively early in relation to other males of my age (27).
    The availability of a male contraceptive would be of considerable benefit to me, both from a practical point of view and from the disadvantages (physical and emotional) that condoms can inflict upon a male. It would also ensure that I did not have to go through an alternatively painful process to ensure I am unable to have the children/child I am wholly incapable of caring for (emotionally and otherwise). In this respect, the chance to ensure I could not create a situation where both persons would be affected would be a blessing and would alleviate substantial concerns for me.

    I do not see the initial post acknowledging that there are some males who have this requirement and I also speak as someone who, wherever possible, has made the appropriate provision to ensure contraception was used. On the extremely infrequent occasions this has not taken place, it has been with the consent of the partner in question. Yes, this latter aspect does mean I can have the charge levelled at me that I am not 100% consistent. On the other hand, I am not trying to speak for every male but I am representing a demographic that this article does not necessarily speak for.

  17. Sandra permalink
    June 26, 2009 1:51 am

    This is wonderful! It’s my bf’s turn! It’s unfair that we have to jeopardize our health (risk of heart attack/stroke, general hormonal moodiness, dark spots, blood clots, etc) and men just get to la dee dah through life. Share the burden. When this is on the market, my bf is going to take it. I’m sick of being on the pill, tired, lowered libido, moody, and worrying about heart attacks!
    I’ve been saying they need to invent a pill for men for years. This is awesome. I just thought I’d look to see if it’s talked about online and stumbled onto great news.

    Yeah men, now you will SEE WHAT IT’S LIKE!! HA! Awesome!

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