The male pill – Is it Just a Myth?

November 12, 2012

The male pill - Is it Just a Myth?

If you listen to a group of women having a conversation about contraception, it’s a safe bet that 8 out of 10 of them are responsible for birth-control within their relationship. It’s not actually the man’s fault, there are only 3 methods of contraception available to a man and these are:

  • Vasectomy – Men who have had their families usually have this operation which stops the sperm reaching the semen, but it does present problems if the couple then divorce reversal is not always successful.

  • The withdrawal method – This means removing the penis from the vagina before ejaculation, which, as well as being highly unsatisfactory is also extremely unreliable.

  • Condoms – A must for safe sex, but many couples in a long term relationship find them off-putting and a nuisance.

So why then has a male pill not been developed?

It’s not for the lack of trying! Despite a lack of funding research is going on in many parts of the world.

So, what’s the problem?

A man’s reproductive system isn’t the same as a woman’s, so the pill which women use so effectively now, wouldn’t work on a man. The male pill needs to have some of the same attributes as the pill for women, such as minimal side effects and a return to fertility once the pill is stopped. However, the pill can’t effect the man’s erection and needs to stop all the sperm from fertilising an egg, a mammoth task in itself!

What’s being done about it?

Various studies have been carried out, but a lot of them have hit a brick wall. Studies at Edinburgh University floundered when it was discovered that by giving men progesterone, which is present in the pill for women, sperm fertility was halted, but side effects included a decrease in the production of testosterone causing a drop in libido. The men were given injections of testosterone, which rectified the problems, but this treatment wouldn’t be viable on a grand scale.

Studies in Australia and America appear to be promising, but they are still in the early stages of research and the Chinese are collaborating with scientists in Los Angles on a study to develop a contraceptive which is injected.

Studies in America have discovered that a non-hormonal compound called Adjudin halts the fertility of sperm without any side-effects, but the study was in Rats and has yet to be tested on humans. However Scientists are hopeful that a non-hormonal male pill will be developed in the future.

Will it really happen?

Without doubt some other form of male contraception will become available in the future, but it is unlikely to be a male pill in tablet form and will probably be in the form of an hormonal implant.

Are men reliable enough to use the male pill?

Most studies confirm that a man in a long term relationship would have no problem with the male pill. However it is generally thought that an implant would be more favourable, because as every woman knows pills are sometimes forgotten.

Do women like the idea?

In general the answer is thought to be yes, especially if it comes in the form of an implant, which can be seen or felt by the woman. Single men however, are unlikely to bother, but this is probably a good thing, taking into account that the use of condoms protects both males and females from sexually transmitted diseases.

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