Birth control pill for men?

Men of reproductive age have traditionally been restricted to using condoms and the withdrawal method to prevent pregnancy. Condoms have been the most reliable method as they can be up to 98% effective at preventing pregnancy if used consistently and correctly. However, with typical use that percentage drops to 85%.

Historically it has been the woman’s responsibility to prevent pregnancy. There are many options available to women including birth control pills, intrauterine devices (IUD), implants, and rings. The vast majority of birth control options for women consist of synthetic hormones. Not every woman can tolerate synthetic hormones; some complain of decrease in desire, arousal, dryness, pain, weight gain and depression.

Recently, researchers discovered that a drug originally developed to treat cancer has the ability to inhibit sperm cell activity and may lead the way to the development of a long awaited form of male contraception. This drug, known as JQI, has only been studied in male mice. A study showed that after the mice received JQI they were infertile after one to two months of therapy. When the mice were taken off the drug, they became fertile again and their sperm returned to full strength with no side effects.

Unlike other medications that have been researched for male contraception, this drug does not interfere with hormone levels and has no effect on the testosterone levels of the male mice. Although the medication was injected into mice, the researchers state the drug could be produced in pill form.

I do think research like this is long overdue and opens another discussion on whether or not women would be willing to put the responsibility of pregnancy prevention on their partner. I’m not so sure how many women would trust their male partners to remember to take a pill every day since many women accidentally forget to take their own birth control pills. I think a more reliable method for delivery would be a monthly injection that could be self-administered or administered by the female partner. Either way, as many other responsibilities in daily life are now shared between the sexes, it is time for pregnancy prevention to be shared as well; especially for couples where the woman cannot tolerate synthetic hormones.

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