And why isn’t there a male contraceptive pill yet?
When it comes to contraception, there are plenty of options available in Australia. We have reasonably easy access to the contraceptive pill, IUD, IUS, morning after pill, diaphragm, vaginal ring and more. As women, you could even go as far to admitting we’re a little spoilt for choice. Yet, there are only two viable contraceptive options for men; condoms or a vasectomy. Neither of these are hormonal methods.
It’s clear that when spending time beneath the sheets (or, on the kitchen bench if that’s your thing), women are taking more of the risk. If it takes two to tango, shouldn’t there be a possibility for shared responsibility in practicing safe and effective contraception methods? It’s a giant YES in our opinion, so let’s dive into where we’re at with male contraception in Australia.
Okay, it’s not that the concept of a male contraception isn’t on the table. Researchers have been playing around with the idea for over half a century. Some recent male contraception milestones include:
Developed by non-profit organisation, Parsemus Foundation, Vasalgel is a male contraceptive treatment that involves a one-time injection of a polymer gel into the vas deferens (the tube that carries sperm from the testes). In simple terms, Vasalgel prevents conception by blocking the flow of sperm into the ejaculation fluid. The procedure mimics the effects of a vasectomy, except there are no hormonal side effects and the gel can be removed via flushing when future fertility is on the cards. If you’ve already done the maths, that means Vasalgel is reversible – yas!
In a trial of rhesus monkeys, this below-the-belt injection was found to be effective in preventing conception for up to ten years however it is yet to be submitted for review by the Food and Drug Administration.
The Clean Sheet Pill
Just as its name suggests, The Clean Sheet Pill is a daily contraceptive pill for men that works two-fold in preventing the release of sperm and transmission of sexual infections. This male contraceptive pill doesn’t affect the feeling of orgasm and there’s no reduction in sexual pleasure for our male friends. So, if this one hits the pharmacy shelves, you’ll receive a double whammy of benefits; sex with a clear contraceptive conscious and zero urge to immediately wash the bedlinen.
Like Vasalgel, the Clean Sheet Pill has so far only been tested on animals. A human version could be as far as ten years from development.
Hormone-free Male Pill
Australian researchers at Monash University in Melbourne have been developing a non-invasive form of birth control for men. The potential male contraceptive pill is expected to stop sperm from reaching the woman’s egg by blocking two proteins responsible for triggering the movement of sperm from the testes to the base of the urethra for ejaculation.
Mice trials are expected to commence soon, so this could be the front-runner to watch!
So, with all these advances, why isn’t a male contraceptive pill still not available yet?
The magic formula hasn’t yet hit the market and here are our thoughts on why:
- Ye olde ‘why fix something that isn’t broken’ theory
The female pill has existed for over 60-years. It’s so effective in preventing pregnancies that perhaps drug companies aren’t interested in manufacturing a male contraceptive pill. In their financially profitable minds, what would be the point in spending millions of dollars on a product that already has a pretty reliable solution.
- Plain and simple, men and women are built differently
Hormonal contraceptive methods for females generally prevent ovulation, which occurs once a month. Male contraceptive methods target sperm production, which is a male bodily process that occurs millions of times each day. Technically speaking, male contraceptives are more difficult to produce.
With the smorgasbord of female contraception options available and little desire for men to desperately need their own form of contraception, funding for research is hard to come by. Which companies are going to manufacture a product that isn’t in demand?
- The ‘welcome to our world’ side effects
One recent study observing the effectiveness of a male contraception injection reported increased side effects of discomfort, acne, mood disorders, and weight gain. We think we speak for every woman when we say; ‘Hey men, welcome to our world’! But, honestly, can we really handle a national population of men experiencing similar symptoms to what we experience on the pill? Mood-swings, zits, weight fluctuations, hormonal outbursts? We’re running in the opposite direction already.
- The trust factor
When pregnancy hits, it’s the female body that undergoes extreme physical change and sacrifice. Not to mention the financial side of having a little human grow inside the womb. And, sure, there’s a lot of life-changing pleasure and fulfilment, too. But for the sake of our argument, pregnancy carries more consequence for women than men. Should a man forget to take a male contraceptive pill for a few days, the repercussions literally will not affect him until the day he hears the news of little Theodore’s impending arrival. Can women really put the risk of unplanned pregnancy in male hands?
All fair reasons. But, will Australian men use a male contraceptive pill if one does hit the market?
A study looking at the attitudes of Australian men to potentially use a male hormonal contraception (MHC) found that 75.4% would consider the product if it were available. They’re some promising results, with the three most favoured methods of administration being an oral pill, a three-monthly injection, and a two-yearly injection.
So, whilst the male willingness is there, until future methods of male contraception are released, it’s still up to you to be the CEO of your contraceptive needs. As for us, we’ll happily be your Personal Assistant, providing hassle-free contraceptive solutions whenever you need them. Find out more here about our convenient contraceptive subscriptions.