When it comes to birth control, men only have two real options at their fingertips: condoms or vasectomy . Meanwhile, women have a variety of ways to limit pregnancy (read: contraceptive methods ). This situation forces them to bear most of the financial, health-related and other burdens of contraception and relegates men to the background.
For their part, pharmaceutical companies see this issue as a problem already addressed by women, who are targeted by most of the products. Current methods can be expensive, have uncomfortable (or, for some, unsafe) side effects, or not be very effective. And also many sectors of society have been considering contraception as a woman’s problem , both culturally and medically.
Globally, men tend to be left behind when it comes to contraception. Nearly 60 percent of women in marital relationships used the contraceptive pill or some other form of modern contraception worldwide in 2015, according to a United Nations report. In contrast, only in 8 percent of relationships was the man who used a method to avoid pregnancy .
Possible birth control methods for men
In this context, different sectors have been demanding an effective male contraceptive , easy to administer, reversible, inexpensive and with little or no secondary health effects. The bar is therefore very high, but here we detail some of the current possibilities.
Non-surgical and reversible vasectomy
There is a procedure similar to a vasectomy, except that it is reversible and does not involve surgery. Instead of cutting the vas deferens (the traditional surgical option), a polymer gel is injected that blocks the sperm. If a man wants to remove the gel, another injection dissolves it.
It takes 3 to 5 days to be effective in preventing pregnancy after the initial injections, but the reversal process takes a little longer, up to four months.
A similar contraceptive is currently in advanced clinical trials in India, and has been used by some men for 15 years , but reversible, non-surgical vasectomy has so far only been successfully tested in rabbits.
Dry Orgasm Pill
The dry orgasm pill (sometimes known as the clean sheets pill) is based on a blood pressure medication that has no longer been used. It is a fast-acting, hormone-free pill that temporarily disrupts the muscles that drive semen, but does not inhibit any other part of the sexual act, including orgasm.
Pharmaceutical companies are wary of a product that prevents ejaculation. They believe that men would not like it, but, on the other hand, it could be an effective tool in the fight against certain sexually transmitted diseases, which are spread through semen. Pilot studies in animals show the effectiveness of the drug , but more studies are needed.
A combination of testosterone gels rubbed into the skin has been found to inhibit sperm production (but without affecting sex drive, ejaculation, or muscle mass).
Sperm counts return to normal after stopping use. This and other hormonal gels are in the testing phase. However, topical treatments may not be ideal. In fact, hormonal gels can be problematic, in the sense that we must keep them away from our partner or children, due to the risk that exposing them to them may pose.
There is a contraceptive method that is derived from a plant (Justicia gendarussa) native to Indonesia. The natives there originally used it as a herbal remedy for stress , but noted that it seemed to have contraceptive effects on men. It has been studied since 1985 and is currently in clinical trials.
The compound, taken as a daily pill, is believed to deactivate the ability of sperm to penetrate the egg , but no other side effects have been detected. In previous human trials, only one pregnancy out of 300 possible has been tested.
There is a one-year implant option, which is based on a synthetic compound similar to testosterone, to inhibit sperm cell development without affecting libido. It has been found that men who have been implanted with the compound, have not expelled sperm, an effect that has lasted, in many subjects, for months , until the implants have been removed.
This can be a valid model for many men, because it does not require regular attention. Men especially are not used to regularly visiting their doctors for their reproductive health care, as women are required to do.
Depending on the method we use, the side effects can be varied. Many of them affect the moods of men , as occurs when treatments of this type are performed in women.
This is one of the reasons why many of the possibilities that have been tried have not yet established themselves as a valid and lasting solution.
Doctors are about to launch the first new male contraceptive in more than a century. The results so far show that it is safe, effective and easy to use, but it has not been very well received by pharmaceutical companies . This is frustrating for its inventor, who assures that his technique could play a crucial role in populations with few possibilities of access to condoms.
Its potential is such that it is estimated that it could take over half of the market of around 10 billion euros generated by female contraceptives worldwide and reduce the 3.2 billion euros of annual sales of condoms, businesses dominated by the pharmaceutical giants.
This new procedure has been created in India and could cost only about 10 euros in developing countries. Thanks to it, they could provide men with fertility control for years and avoid the cost associated with condoms and the female contraceptive pill, which is usually taken daily.
Despite everything, there are still no organizations willing to invest the money necessary to develop the required technology. In fact, an important economic bet is currently being sought to implement this method in a generalized way.
The inventor of this system is a 76-year-old biomedical engineer . The challenge, he says, is finding a company that wants to sell it, even though male contraception is an area in which, until now, drug companies have shown little interest.
The technique used is based on a polymer gel that is injected into the tubes that carry sperm into the scrotum. The gel, which has the consistency of melted chocolate, has a positive charge that acts as a buffer on negatively charged sperm, something that damages their heads and tails, rendering them infertile.
This therapy is reversible by means of a second injection that disassembles the gel, which makes it possible for the sperm to go back through the penis in a normal way. The expected launch over the next two years will contribute to the 17 percent growth of India’s contraceptive market through 2021 .
The procedure is 98% effective in preventing pregnancy, as are condoms when used every time, and has no major side effects. About 540 men have received it in India.
For a drug to reach the market, the benefits must outweigh the risks. Women already face pregnancy risks, so birth control just has to be safer than having a baby. Men do not have the same compensation, so even small risks can disqualify a treatment.
Also, we already have other forms of birth control, so men who don’t want to have babies still have a lot of options. Men can ask their partners to take a pill, and 52 percent of them don’t even realize they benefit, too .
Finally, it is not easy to put reversible birth control into operation. Ideally, a birth control method is something that a person can use when they do not want to have children and stop using it when they are ready to start a family. If a pill has a 20 percent chance of making us permanently infertile, we will most likely never take it.
For all these reasons, male birth control does not seem too profitable, which means that drug companies are not interested in investing in it.
Additionally, nonprofits that aim to bring birth control to the developing world are more focused on giving women the tools to control their own fertility. For all this, the control of pregnancy focused as a male responsibility is a second option that is not taken as urgent.
The anatomy of men is complicated. Women ovulate once a month, but men’s sperm production is constant, with 1,000 or more sperm per second . Preventing sperm from meeting an egg is not easy. But you don’t need to cut production to zero to be effective. Simply reduce your power and movement enough to avoid pregnancy.
Side effects are another concern. Researchers in 2011 stopped a trial of hormonal birth control injections for men when side effects, including depression and other mood swings and increased libido, were higher than expected. Coupled with all this, funding for research and development is another obstacle.
Traditional contraceptive methods
Here are the main methods men use when taking responsibility for preventing pregnancy from occurring:
Also known as coitus interruptus or extraction, it is one of the oldest family planning techniques in the world. It prevents conception by preventing sperm from entering the vagina.
To work effectively, a man must fully withdraw his penis from his partner’s vagina before ejaculating. However, this method is not completely effective. Sperm can reach the female reproductive system if separation is not done properly. In some cases, sperm can also be found in the precum, leading to an unplanned pregnancy.
They are thin sheaths, usually made of latex, that are placed over the penis to block ejaculation during sexual intercourse and prevent pregnancy. Used correctly, they fail about 2% of the time. If used incorrectly, they can have a failure rate of 18%.
Among its risks and effects are irritation or allergic reactions, although they occur in very few cases. They can also break or leak during sex, increasing the risk of unwanted pregnancy.
Vasectomy is a simple surgical procedure that blocks the tubes that carry sperm out of the testicles to permanently sterilize a man. This technique has less than one percent chance of failure. As with any surgical procedure, risks include bleeding or infection.
Thing of two
In the last two decades, the medical and scientific community has been increasing its efforts to develop male contraceptives . However, the most recent clinical trials, although effective and promising at first, have not yet materialized as a real contraceptive solution for men , not only because of the negative side effects, but also because of many other conditions. Be that as it may, the conception of a baby is a matter of two, both parties must take an active and participatory role in planning the pregnancy and decide when and under what circumstances we want to bring a new being into the world.
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.