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The male contraceptive pill
November 13, 2002 8:08 AM   Subscribe

The male contraceptive pill is 100% effective and will be available in 2005. Will you take it? Will men stop using condoms and STDs increase as a result? Can men be trusted to take it every day?
posted by norm29 (66 comments total)

 
Luckily by then I will be trying to have children.

Will men be trusted to take it? As much as you trust women to take the pill.

eg. it depends on the person not the gender. bit flamey there norm29. no gold star.
posted by Frasermoo at 8:10 AM on November 13, 2002


For luckily read hopefully....

'boh.
posted by Frasermoo at 8:11 AM on November 13, 2002


I'd rather take a pill than be subjected to a knife.
posted by jasonspaceman at 8:20 AM on November 13, 2002


I thought it was a woman's duty...
posted by eas98 at 8:21 AM on November 13, 2002


trusted to take it every day?

If both people in the relationship take their respective pills, then neither of them have to worry about the other person not taking them.

Not to mention you probably decrease the even miniscule chance of either pill failing by having both people protected. If this pill turns out to not have bad side effects, this is a really interesting development.
posted by jsonic at 8:23 AM on November 13, 2002


1) I would take it. I'm currently in a long-term monogamous relationship. But even if I was still in poly-land, I would still consider using it in addition to condoms to decrease the chances of unwanted pregnancy.

2) Some monogamous men will stop using condoms without ill effect. It will make it easier for some dishonest men to (temporarily) get away with being dishonest. This is similar to the old "I don't need one, I'm sterile" line that was common before the time of HIV. Hopefully this will be a small minority.

3) Only men in stable relationships can/should be trusted to take it every day! For others it should be an adjunct to a condom, not a replacement.

In case it's not clear, as someone whose long-term monogamous femaile partner refuses to take the pill, I think this is awesome!
posted by alms at 8:23 AM on November 13, 2002


My wife and I talked about this last night while watching Discovery Health talk about contraceptives through the ages, and I would definitely take the pill. I'd remember, since it would just be added to my daily pill pile. Sure would be better than using condoms.
posted by mkelley at 8:26 AM on November 13, 2002


Will men be trusted to take it? As much as you trust women to take the pill.

I'm not sure I agree with that. The consequences seem more immediate for women than men. I've known a lot of guys in the past whom I wouldn't put above lying about it.

bit flamey there norm29. no gold star.

Oh hell. And I was trying so hard!
posted by norm29 at 8:27 AM on November 13, 2002


I'd take it. I'd agree that it depends on the person, although I think fewer men than women think of pregnancy as a real risk to unprotected sex.

As far as an increase in STDs, I think that's definitely going to happen. There's no pill (other than, perhaps, tetracycline) that can keep STDs at bay.
posted by me3dia at 8:28 AM on November 13, 2002


I'd gladly take it. Anything to keep me from ever spawning a bloodsucking psychic leech destined to rob me of all the fun I deserve to have.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 8:30 AM on November 13, 2002


Shouldn't my wife's health insurance pay for the prescription as preventive medicine?
posted by machaus at 8:31 AM on November 13, 2002


Can men be trusted to take it every day?

About the same as women taking theirs every day I'd say.
posted by ralawrence at 8:33 AM on November 13, 2002


I found my vasectomy both pleasant and relaxing.
posted by putzface_dickman at 8:34 AM on November 13, 2002


My goolies are singing.
posted by Fat Buddha at 8:41 AM on November 13, 2002


Interesting locally produced show on my local NPR station. Guests were from University of Washington and Wazzu, UW just got a major federal grant for studying hormonal contraception in males.

Apparently they are studying a long-acting (once a year, or every quarter) injections. Much better, I think, than daily pills.

A couple other points came out of the discussion: Ultimately, I think the real question, (as asked on the FPP) is: [woman 's pov] Can I really trust a man to take a pill daily to keep me from getting pregnant[/woman]. I don't think I would, why should she?

Given the choices available to my fam, I'm thinking strongly of signing up for the research.
posted by daver at 8:41 AM on November 13, 2002


Shouldn't my wife's health insurance pay for the prescription as preventive medicine?

Since most health insurances refuse to pay for the woman's contraceptive-- it's hardly likely they will pay for the man's.

My partner won't be using this. I am on the pill and won't give it up, even if "his" pill turns out to cost less than $35.00 a month because the secondary reason I use the pill is that it regulates my periods. No pill, no telling when I am going to start-- and that gets messy.

On Preview: Geez Putzface_Dickman what kind of drugs were you given!?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:44 AM on November 13, 2002


I'd take it. Especially if it has less chance of side effects than the female pill. If my fiancee' forgets to take her pill at night (thankfully rare) and has to take it in the morning, she has a slightly upset stomach for the day.

Amusingly enough, I'm about in the same boat as Frasermoo. This should come out just in time for me/us to be trying to have children. which, I guess might be a good thing because, by the time we're done having children, it should be well tested and an alternative to the dreaded surgical snipping.
posted by srw12 at 8:50 AM on November 13, 2002


I'd take it on spec. Even if I wasn't getting any. It would be fun to say "I'm on the pill!"


"What did I just take? A birth control pill? Do you know what that does to guys my age?"
- Anthony Michael Hall
posted by vito90 at 8:53 AM on November 13, 2002


Seeing as how my partner is having health problems with her contraceptive pill, I would gladly take over the responsibility.
She'd trust me (I think) as generally I'm less forgetful than she is. The question I'll be asking is what side-effects could it have and how likely am I to suffer them? What happens if/when we want to start a family, is it a case of stop taking the pills and the little buggers are fit and healthy again?
posted by Markb at 8:54 AM on November 13, 2002


Can men be trusted to take it every day?

About the same as women taking theirs every day I'd say.


Well, considering the woman's the one whose life is going to be turned upside down, I don't think that's really true. Unless she's a psycho bitch trying to trap a man through pregnancy and I'd say that's rarer than the man who wants a shag and doesn't really care about the woman.

Shouldn't my wife's health insurance pay for the prescription as preventive medicine?

In the UK it's free. Nerr nerr nerr.
posted by Summer at 8:56 AM on November 13, 2002


I found my vasectomy both pleasant and relaxing.

If you think that was fun, wait until you have it reversed. Imagine having a field goal kicker line up squarely on your groin. I was sleeping on my back with a pillow between my legs for a week. Since they snipped out a section of the vas in the original surgery, they had to tug on it to get enough slack to resection it. Was not fun. And they do knock you out for the reversal.

That's why I think this is a great advance, even if it's about 20 years late for me.
posted by norm29 at 9:03 AM on November 13, 2002


Markb, oftentimes, it can take months and months for a woman to become fertile after stopping taking the pill. I wonder if the effects will be the same on men. Probably not, as your sperm are made fresh and our eggs are all there from the beginning. The effects probably wear off faster on men.

Frankly, I would love it if my husband took this. I'm sick and tired of birth control. I'm sure he will when it comes out and I trust him to do it. However, if I weren't married and with him for 10 years, I don' t think I would leave it in the guys hands. Especially if he said, "we don't need a condom. I'm on the pill." Errr. No, I don't think so, buddy.

And like Norm29 said, this is a much better alternative than a vasectomy. At least it's a lot less painful!
posted by aacheson at 9:07 AM on November 13, 2002


I've been wanting something like this since I committed to my partner a couple of years ago. I'm not ready to go the permanent route with a vasectomy, and the
other alternatives are either half-assed or not readily available in the states.
posted by ursus_comiter at 9:07 AM on November 13, 2002


me3dia:

There's no pill (other than, perhaps, tetracycline) that can keep STDs at bay.

Tetracycline won't keep you from getting AIDS you clueless fool, unless you are one of those "geniuses" who thinks they can see who has AIDS just by looking at at a person.

As usual, there's no hope for the stupid.

Obviously men never gave a rat's ass about birth control if they don't (or won't) already wear a condom.

This announcement is a whole lot of nothing for most of us guys.
posted by mark13 at 9:46 AM on November 13, 2002


speak for yourself, fark13.
posted by angry modem at 9:54 AM on November 13, 2002


Daily pills are a pain in the wazoo. As another female mefi'er said, taking them really helps regulate the cycle, which if you don't suffer any side effects, is a great side benefit. I hope they continue focusing on other ways that only involve once a year or month intervention. You can't replace condoms as a way to prevent STDs, but for monogamous couples this is great.
posted by Salmonberry at 10:02 AM on November 13, 2002


i'm with Markb and aacheson, my girlfriend tried the pill for a month and became incredibly sick. so we were slowly running out of options. this couldn't come along soon enough as far as both of us are concerned.

and the idea that a man is unlikely to be trusted to take the male pill is ludicrous. sure, we have less to lose in the physical stakes, but paternity suits soon deliver the impact on a philandering bloke.

/rant
posted by triv at 10:13 AM on November 13, 2002


I hate pills of all sorts, and would much prefer a vasectomy. Am I correct in thinking that vasectomies can be reversed these days, too? Give me nice clear-cut surgery any time over who-knows-what neurochemicals floating around in my system.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:22 AM on November 13, 2002


aacheson, actually women can get pregnant within weeks of going off the pill. Ovulation returns to normal within 2-8 weeks of stopping the pill. Doctors often recommend women wait to become pregnant until their cycles return to normal, usually 2 months, but this has nothing to do with fertility. It's so they'll know when ovulation occurs and better determine the birth day based on a normal non-pill cycle.

Anyhow, I'd welcome my husband taking the pill, but as others have said, we'll be trying to get pregnant by the time they're on the market. Maybe he'd take it afterward, rather than going under the knife.
posted by humbe at 10:25 AM on November 13, 2002


I found my vasectomy both pleasant and relaxing

I had no problem with mine either. I suppose it depends on the skill of the surgeon, but I experienced no post-op pain and was up and about (so to speak) in a week.
posted by moonbiter at 10:25 AM on November 13, 2002


I've wondered about the vasectomy comments myself. Having my wife nearly die having our one and only child and seeing how the pill adversely affected her, I had no problem deciding on a vasectomy.

Maybe having my doctor as a personal friend made a difference, but he made certain I felt no pain during or afterwards.

Ah the wonders of modern pharmacology.
posted by Plunge at 10:27 AM on November 13, 2002


Well, considering the woman's the one whose life is going to be turned upside down, I don't think that's really true.

Depends on how you feel about abortion. If a woman becomes pregnant, she still has options. The guy at that point is effectively at the mercy of his partner's whim (or beliefs or feelings or whatever nice word you want to substitute for whim).
posted by willnot at 10:40 AM on November 13, 2002


I'm not sure I agree with that. The consequences seem more immediate for women than men. I've known a lot of guys in the past whom I wouldn't put above lying about it.

I'm going to make a broad generalization here, but I tend to think that there are fewer men that would try to trick a woman into getting pregnant than women who would trick a man into getting them pregnant.
posted by jonah at 11:08 AM on November 13, 2002


Hmm, but there are men who would say "oh baby don't worry I'm on the pill" just to get laid. Unless you're in a committed relationship, I say it's every person for themselves...pills, condoms, vasectomies, black magic, whatever it takes.
posted by JoanArkham at 11:14 AM on November 13, 2002


jonah: I'm going to make a broad generalization here, but I tend to think that there are fewer men that would try to trick a woman into getting pregnant than women who would trick a man into getting them pregnant.

Uh, I don't think that's the contention- rather, it's the man's desire to get laid and not have to bother with a condom (which is probably fairly common) vs. a woman's desire to trick a man into impregnating her (which I'm thinking doesn't exist outside the Right-Wing Hysteria Bubble).

But this pill... will it make my breasts bigger?


posted by mkultra at 11:24 AM on November 13, 2002


Hmmm. Jonah, I think the issue is sleazy men who don't want to wear condoms and will say anything to avoid wearing them. Now, most of the women here would avoid men like that and/or would laugh said man out of bed and refuse sex if he said it. (on preview, what mkultra and JoanArkham said)

So maybe the way to look at this is: In a heterosexual relationship where you're sure that no STDs (now called STIs) are being transmitted, would you be more comfortable with the man or the woman taking the pill?

With the aforementioned sleazy guy, I wouldn't trust him, no. But then I would hopefully not be in a relationship with this guy. In the good relationship, I'd want him to take it, probably, given the health risks to me (breast cancer, blood-clots, etc), the female pills' deleterious effect on my libido, his faster recovery time, and his (apparent) lack of side-effects.

And maybe that hormone regulation will have some beneficial side effects for the men too? Maybe a constant level of testosterone could improve libido for a man with a low sex drive? Or perhaps stabilize his libido so that he wants sex more (or less) than he does now? Lots of good possibilities.
posted by Red58 at 11:26 AM on November 13, 2002


this would be beautiful....but caution carries that i wait and see what the side effects are like. my husband and i DEFINATELY aren't ready to have a little tax deduction running around.

thing is, i personally know how alarming and painful it would be if he experienced any violent reactions like i did -- i had constant, frightening chest pains (in my rib cage area), my boobs grew (eh, so it's not THAT bad), and i gained about 10 lbs.. Turns out, my mum tells me that none of the women in my family can take the pill. SHE almost had a stroke in her 20s when she tried it.

still, i wonder if there's ANOTHER way we're not approaching this question of protection. with as much as i've experimented with herbal and preventative medine & foods alongside a history of watching many loved ones live on a cocktail of pills, i can't help but be 90% convinced that screwing with anyone's bodily balance is a bad thing. With the exception of the occasional case of screwy glands, I'm not sure I would ever use any kind of hormone replacement or ingestion, with the exception of things like wild yam creme, which (from what i've read) gives small doses of hormones naturally found in the plant and helps relieve PMS & depression in women.

I vote for a more comfortable condom. The best ones i've found still feel & smell like i'm boinking a party balloon.

*Jualiah*
(BTW, my husband & i only have one name to post under, so we'll be careful to sign differently. )
posted by gsalad at 11:27 AM on November 13, 2002


Whoa now, I don't know about you folks but these are some VERY BROAD generalizations, please don't judge me or anyone else based on "a couple guys I know" And besides that, a little advice, if you feel that someone is going to try to trap you or that you can't trust them to take a pill, DON'T fuck them.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:27 AM on November 13, 2002


Oh, and one more thing. How is it that the male pill, right out of the gate, has only one known side effect - small weight gain according to the article - but the female pill after many years, can still carry major side effects?
posted by Salmonberry at 11:43 AM on November 13, 2002


I vote for a more comfortable condom. The best ones i've found still feel & smell like i'm boinking a party balloon.

Extremely well said. I positively loathe condoms, and when in a committed monogamous relationship with someone (which has only happened twice) I've stopped using them with my partner's consent.

If I were with someone who wasn't comfortable with that, It'd be great to have another option. Other than this proposed pill, is there anything else out there?
posted by aladfar at 11:54 AM on November 13, 2002


Ah, but of course there's another way, aladfar! ABSTINANCE! Listen to the wise words of our President. Abstinance is they key. (Cuz I'm sure when he was a partying drunk at Yale, he never had one-nighters....)

(/rant)
posted by aacheson at 11:58 AM on November 13, 2002


... why is it that I've been hearing about this fantastic male pill since before I even started on mine - but I have yet too see it reach the market so I can drop mine that have far many more side-effects than this dream idea. that date of future release keeps moving like a target.
posted by dabitch at 12:00 PM on November 13, 2002


As an odd note . . . what happens with your . . . uhm . . . fluid?

the deliverer liquid, but no delivery?
posted by cinderful at 12:10 PM on November 13, 2002


For more comfy condoms, try female condoms. They're bigger and therefore don't cut off as much sensation for the guy (I'm told.) On the female side, I can't tell it's in there. Of course they're still condoms and there's a layer of plastic between you and yours. Beats most alternatives though. [/end sales pitch]
posted by Red58 at 12:12 PM on November 13, 2002


On the female side, I can't tell it's in there.

MUST.MAINTAIN.STRAIGHT.FACE
posted by machaus at 12:23 PM on November 13, 2002


I'm just a little confused here, maybe naive, but aren't there like 50 different kinds of birth control pills for women out there? Everyone talks about THE pill like there is the one and only, have they not tried different kinds, maybe like I said I just don't know. I'm also curious to know why its OK for one partner to experience side effects and not the other, as I see often in the, "I'd quit the pill and let hubby take the side effects" posts. Sure I can agree if the side effects are some minor weight gain or something like that rather than "roid rage" type symptoms associated with other male hormone pills, shouldn't we find out first?
posted by Pollomacho at 12:45 PM on November 13, 2002


from the article: Depending on the frequency of sexual activity, the male pill could turn out to be only slightly more expensive or equal to the price of a dozen condoms.

hmm. it is me, or does this sentence make absolutely no sense?

Still, a great development if true. However, I agree that there probably is some cause for concern from a public health perspective since I do think men on average, particularly unmarried/uncommitted men, are less likely to keep up with the doses then women. It's not some horrible stereotype, it just reflects the fact that most people are motivated primarily by self interest and women have more of an interest at stake in preventing unintended pregnancy than uncommitted (and probably even committed) men do. Still, more options are always better and education campaigns targeted at both men and women would help reduce any negative effects.
posted by boltman at 12:53 PM on November 13, 2002


Good point, dabitch. It's well known that the male contraceptive pill is always just a few years off - it's been like that for decades. Apparently men simply aren't that interested in a pill when such a large number of women take them anyway. And the side effects are usually deemed too severe, although they are no worse, and often a lot milder, than those for female pills.

Even with the new, third generation pills, nine women have died from the side effects in Sweden alone during the last decade (sorry, don't have the stats for other countries), and that's nothing compared to what it was like when the first pills were introduced in the sixties. A lot of men definitely would take a male pill if was available in order to share the risk and responsibility, but maybe not enough to make it profitable.
posted by Cicerius at 12:57 PM on November 13, 2002


No male pill for me & no female pill for the love of my life either cuz we don't eat hormones & we got rhythm ;-)

Red58: The female condom I used (OK, my partner @ the time) was like bonking a crisp packet.
posted by i_cola at 2:16 PM on November 13, 2002


hehe. Ok machaus, back to female condoms. I did know he was in there, I wasn't, however, aware of the condom. Sorry to be unclear....

i_cola - wow - try having the guy use lube when using that female condom (Reality brand). Maybe it'll be less - er, crispy?

(trying to avoid being too graphic here)
posted by Red58 at 2:36 PM on November 13, 2002


I had an idea for a male contraceptive pill years ago. Not taken orally, of course. No, a man puts it in his shoe.

"His shoe?!" I hear you wonder.

Yes. It makes him limp.
posted by bradlands at 2:51 PM on November 13, 2002 [1 favorite]


A larger study, involving 120 men between the ages of 18 and 45 from Europe and the United States, is currently underway. The participants have tiny rods implanted under the skin of their arm that deliver a form of progestogen (commonly found in the female birth control pill) to block sperm production.

In order to maintain their sex drive and their "male characteristics," the men receive testosterone replacement therapy injections every four to six weeks over the course of the yearlong study. The results should be available by the end of 2002.



Yeah, let's give men progestogen, then make them have testerone injections to make them maintain their male characteristics.

There is no way I'd ask my husband to use something like that. I also wouldn't let him take any male birth control pill until it had be around for quite awhile. How many drugs have been released to the public and then pulled in the past 10 years?

Not to mention that supressing a once a month ovulation is easier than supressing nonstop sperm production. Sure, women having to be the ones most responsible for birth control sucks, but, I like my husband how he is.
posted by SuzySmith at 3:12 PM on November 13, 2002


Red58: I *knew* I should have translated that! Crisp packet (UK) = Bag that contained potato chips (US). Not so much the sensation as the sound. It was early 90's & the first brand (Femidom) on the UK market so maybe they've improved...

[BTW, I'm the guy, she was the partner.]
posted by i_cola at 3:16 PM on November 13, 2002


Pollomacho said "I'm also curious to know why its OK for one partner to experience side effects and not the other, as I see often in the, "I'd quit the pill and let hubby take the side effects" posts" and wonders why this is OK.

Because women have been dealing with this shit for our entire sexual lives. We've had weight gain, bloating, cramps, spotting, nausea, migranes, heart problems, etc. etc. etc. and now it's time for the guys to experience some side effects that come with effortless, fun, no-bother, no-condom sex that women have been providing to them for years. No, I'm not wishing those things on anyone. But if this pill comes with some side effects, I say "tough shit." We've been having those for years.
posted by aacheson at 3:56 PM on November 13, 2002


I know I came off sounding a little angry-woman-ish in my post above. Not my intent. I would never wish those things on anyone. Really.
posted by aacheson at 4:35 PM on November 13, 2002


we got rhythm

i_cola, I hope you got more than just "rhythm," or you may find rhythmic selves picking out baby names. Women's cycles can be surprisingly tricky, switching up on you when you least expect it. Be verrry careful.
posted by boomchicka at 4:59 PM on November 13, 2002


To me this news is huge (if it ever gets out to the populace). A couple using both pills would finally get the odds of an unwanted pregnancy near that of the lottery, but the new sexual revolution probably still wouldn't result (get an aids/hiv cure by 2005 and you got the perfect double wammy (sorry for the pun)).

That said, i'd still have two major problems as
1) there's no broad long term understanding of the effects on males (cancer, return of sperm after years of exposure, etc)
2) i don't have a girlfriend.

I'm hopeing one of these problems is solved before 2005
posted by NGnerd at 5:35 PM on November 13, 2002


I want it.
posted by tiamat at 8:19 PM on November 13, 2002


If there's a 99.5% chance of a woman not getting pregnant on the female pill, and 99.5% chance of a woman not getting pregnant on the male pill, what are the chances if both partners are taking the pill?

And both wearing condoms?
posted by Neale at 9:37 PM on November 13, 2002


If there's a 99.5% chance of a woman not getting pregnant on the female pill, and 99.5% chance of a woman not getting pregnant on the male pill, what are the chances if both partners are taking the pill? ... And both wearing condoms?

You want Bayes's Rule.
posted by kindall at 11:05 PM on November 13, 2002


Nightmare scenario #1: It becomes so easy for men to obtain these hormones that "Thai ladyboy" type sex slaves become commonplace in rural America. Imagine the perverts who will place five or six of these implants in the flesh of 12-year old boys. It's a disturbing thought.

We need tougher legislation on ladyboy crimes before this is approved for mass distribution.
posted by son_of_minya at 11:48 PM on November 13, 2002


We need tougher legislation on ladyboy crimes before this is approved for mass distribution.

Wha?
posted by Frasermoo at 1:41 AM on November 14, 2002


If there's a 99.5% chance of a woman not getting pregnant on the female pill, and 99.5% chance of a woman not getting pregnant on the male pill, what are the chances if both partners are taking the pill? ... And both wearing condoms?

You want Bayes's Rule.


Naw. Bayes' Rule is about how likely it is that you'll see an elephant.... given that you've just seen (or not seen) a scary clown. What Neale wanted is simpler.

Assuming the two are independent, the probability of of pregnancy (over whatever time period) for a couple who are both on the pill would just be .005 * .005, or 0.000025, or 1 in 40000. If they're both wearing condoms, lower than that. If they're somehow *not* independent, it would depend on how they're correlated.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:26 AM on November 14, 2002


What are "ladyboy crimes"? Is there some epidemic I'm not aware of?

Also, please be aware that you don't just get a prescription for the implants and take 'em home to do it yourself with a roto-rooter and staplegun. They're surgically implanted. By a doctor. "Nightmare scenario #1" needs a reality implant.
posted by biscotti at 8:53 AM on November 14, 2002


I found my vasectomy both pleasant and relaxing.
putzface_dickman


Well I've heard it all now with a comment mirroring its memember on a topic within a thread, you scored!, p_d.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:03 AM on November 14, 2002


I vote for a more comfortable condom. The best ones i've found still feel & smell like i'm boinking a party balloon.

Try to locate some Japanese manufactured condoms. My ex-husband and I used them and they are the best. Once in a while we would run out and have to use Trojans and the difference was amazing-- like the difference between wrapping it up in micro-thin saran wrap, vs. using a latex balloon.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:48 PM on November 15, 2002


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