Since the 1970s, scientists have been researching and experimenting with male hormonal contraceptives. So far, they have had no luck in successfully creating a male birth control but there may be hope as a new hormonal birth control pill for men goes through trials.
Before this breakthrough, there were two effective methods of birth control for men: condoms and vasectomies.
There are different types of condoms but those that are mainly used are latex condoms and non-latex condoms. Most people can use condoms without any problems or side effects. However, latex (rubber) condoms can cause inflammation in people with latex allergies and hypersensitivity in rare cases. When used correctly male condoms are 98% effective. If a male condom is used as a contraceptive, 2 in 100 will become pregnant in a year when used correctly. The average price of a condom is about $1, but it can be cheaper for some brands, stores, and packages. Generally, the larger the pack, the cheaper it will be. Boxes of three cost about $2 to $6. For packs of 12 or more, condoms usually cost less than $1.
A vasectomy is the surgical cutting and sealing of part of each vas deferens, typically as a means of sterilization. A vasectomy is over 99.99% effective in preventing pregnancies. Vasectomies are reversible, meaning that they are not permanent and can be undone. Studies show, “Over 500,000 vasectomies are performed annually in the United States. The safety and efficacy make vasectomy a good family planning option, yet the factors related to use of male surgical sterilization are not well understood. Differences in vasectomy rates are examined in this analysis to explore whether health care, socioeconomic, or personal characteristics could account for observed disparities in use.” A vasectomy usually costs about $1,000 from your pocket.
“Vasectomies can be more effective in preventing pregnancies but they do not protect from STDs,” said senior Ryan Garcia.
Scientists have tested the pill on mice, and according to studies, this new pill is 99% effective, and up to 83% of men would be willing to take the pill. As of now, there are no known side effects, allowing men to take the birth control pill without repercussions. This new male birth control will be yet another method of protection. The pill was non-hormonal, meaning it won’t interfere with the male sex hormone, testosterone. The pill was given to the mice orally for four weeks and they noticed that there was a steep drop in sperm count, meaning they became sterile. Once they began giving them the pill orally again, the mice bounced back to normal virility in four to six weeks.
Arlene Quinonez, counselor, said, “I have heard a little bit about male birth control. I’ve only seen that it’s something that’s coming up that they’re still doing research that they’re still not officially out yet. But it’s supposed to be a birth control that men can now take or use. I haven’t heard much besides that, I feel like it’s still very new. I’ve probably seen it like once or twice, come up on my feed. But I’m assuming that it’s because it’s something that’s still in the works. It’s something that’s not out where you can go get it yet. I’m not even sure if it’s safe to use yet or anything if it’s been FDA approved, or anything like that. So, but, but I know that there’s talk about male birth control coming out.”
There have been male birth control pills created in the past, but have not been FDA approved due to there being side effects.
According to USA Today, “a male birth control shot exists and is nearly 96% percent effective at preventing pregnancy, researchers found, but a study on the contraceptive ended early after men taking it reported negative side effects including mood swings, an altered libido and acne. In other words, they experienced side effects faced by women already taking birth control every day.”
To produce a non hormonal birth control pill, researchers targeted a protein called retinoic acid receptor alpha (RAR-α) because it plays an important role in cell growth. This new pill was created by the University of Minnesota and is expected to start human trials this year. The way it works is “it blocks protein from binding to Vitamin A, which is known to be crucial to fertility and virility in mammals.” Fertility refers to the capability of sustaining reproduction (being able to reproduce). Virility refers to the energy and sex drive in a man.
Chanel Kim, health technician, stated, “We live in a very patriarchal society. Where, you know, sad to say, if men had periods, pads and all the sanitary products would be free. You know, there’s a pain tax for a woman. And women are expected to take birth control; women are expected to do things a certain way versus men, they tend to get away with a lot more stuff. I believe that there will be a good amount who do take it just like how there’s been an increase in vasectomies because it’s reversible versus like, for women tying tubes that’s permanent. So I think in the beginning, there won’t be like a big group taking it. But I think eventually, with more information about it, it’ll be bigger.”
We reached out to Planned Parenthood to take part in an interview. Unfortunately, they don’t have enough information to participate in an interview regarding the male birth control pill.
It is common that a woman gets pregnant and doesn’t want to keep the baby, but also doesn’t want to abort it for reasons like family pressure or morals, and her partner won’t take responsibility either.
In some occurrences, women get pregnant and the males response is, “Well why weren’t you on birth control? ” Now, with this new birth control pill will have men take responsibility in not only protecting themselves, but their partners from unwanted pregnancies.
Kim said, “I guess it’s kind of been like, just like the female role of being like the one who has is like the carrier of the babies, periods and more hormones and whatnot, it’s kind of been placed on us as a rule to kind of be able to prevent pregnancies, despite us having to also give birth. So I think it’s kind of just been pushed towards women being the one to, you know, have to take all these things because men don’t want to work on.”