Written by Meg Susong.
Ever since the 1960’s, when birth control pills became a widespread option for women in America, women have been able to control and protect themselves more efficiently. Of course, there were condoms, but those relied on the consent of the man, which was not always there. However, it was recently announced that a male oral contraceptive might hit the market in as little as five years.
Rightly so, it should be noted that the pill is not for every man in every situation. For example, it probably isn’t smart to walk into a bar, pick up a guy, and trust that he really is on the pill if he says he is. The pill is intended primarily for couples who, well, are couples. The male contraceptive is for men who want to help “share the burden” (if that’s your outlook on it) or just have another option. There are situations in which a woman can’t use oral contraceptives, and this would be another option for a man, other than a condom or a vasectomy.
On top of oral contraceptives, a new device known as Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance or (RISUG), was found to provide effective pregnancy prevention in males for up to 10 years or more. The breakthrough with this particular item is that it is reversible. So, if a man decides that he wants children later on down the road, then he can have them without harm.
Overall, I think this is a wonderful idea. Women have had the burden of protection themselves from pregnancy (and disease, but since birth control does not protect against that, I won’t count it here) for far too long. We have been the ones who have to have the condoms, get the medication, and then, if something does go afoul, face the consequences—sometimes alone.
As mentioned before though, the pill would not be for those one-night stands (still effective, but not the intended audience). The pill would allow women, as well as men, new options on how they want to protect themselves. Anytime men are held more responsible in regards to pregnancy is a good thing.
As for the options it affords men, both the pill and the procedure could be invaluable to younger men who wish to postpone becoming a father until they are finished with school or advancing in their career. In older men, the procedure will allow a man to avoid having more children but the freedom to change his mind. The benefits are positive on both sides.
Even with this in mind, some men are skeptical. They say that they would forget to take it, or that they don’t want to put hormones into their bodies. I have three words for them: Suck it up. Women have been doing it for years, and if you really care, then you can help out. Why would you not want your significant other to be safer?
And this doesn’t mean that you have to do it forever. Try it and stop if it doesn’t work for you. That’s what women do. Don’t just dismiss it because “your wife’s taking the pills.” Maybe she’d like some help.
I read an article where a newly wed husband said his wife was taking the pill, and he never would. Personally, I wouldn’t marry that guy. If he isn’t willing to at least try and work with you (and no, using a condom is not working with you, that should be a given), then maybe it shouldn’t be working at all.
A personal quip and a concern for men, as with any new drug on the market, are adverse effects. Yes, there are tests for that, but they are not always accurate (especially since they are first done on animals—which are not valid, but that’s another opinion article). However, the intriguing thing about the male pill is that it is designed to be non-hormonal. Which essentially means that is won’t cause mood swings or loss of sexual drive (always a good thing in this case).
In short, whether you decided that this wasn’t for you, and stick to other methods, that’s fine too. However, this is just one more way for women and their partners to have control over their lives. And why wouldn’t you want at least one more option? The drug is not coming out tomorrow, and there will be tests done and studies. Don’t be so quick to dismiss something that won’t be out for at least five years. Things will change and be improved. Give it a chance, because it is a good idea in theory and practice.