A birth control pill for men.
July 17, 2000 12:42 PM   Subscribe

A birth control pill for men. I wonder if it will be available over the counter, or if annual prostate exams will be required before getting a prescription from a doctor.
posted by phichens (13 comments total)
That's great!! It's about time they made one for men. Give the women a break from having to take the pill.
posted by FAB4GIRL at 1:16 PM on July 17, 2000

Great idea, but what do doctors have to say about this? No side effects? There's a lot of sperm to be killed.

Otherwise, I think it's rad.
posted by evilmaryellen at 1:22 PM on July 17, 2000

It's a nice idea in theory, but in practice, it's next to useless. I would never, ever believe a guy who said "It's okay baby, we can go crazy-- I'm on the pill." Unless I personally saw the guy taking it every single day, I'd never rely on a male birth control pill.
posted by wiremommy at 1:39 PM on July 17, 2000

I can't see how that would be any different than a woman saying, "It's OK; I'm on the Pill." Why is would you assume a guy would be inherently likely to lie?

If a couple is in a monogamous relationship, it shouldn't matter who's taking the Pill.

If a person is just out looking for a good time, I'd hope that condoms are the contraceptive of choice, as there's nothing any oral contraceptive can do about preventing STDs.
posted by phichens at 1:50 PM on July 17, 2000

As someone in a long-term, serious relationship who doesn't quite want kids yet, this is great. Of course, it's a good five years away, by the sounds of it, which is too bad.
posted by cCranium at 1:52 PM on July 17, 2000

A guy would be more inherently likely to lie because he doesn't gain 100 pounds and have a human come out of him in 9 months.
posted by Mark at 2:28 PM on July 17, 2000

Like all men want to pay child support? Come on! Men aren't that ...okay, MOST men aren't that coldblooded..

Okay, I AM not that cold blooded.

Well... maybe if you get a few lemon beers in me...
posted by ZachsMind at 3:28 PM on July 17, 2000

Actually, there have been two pills for men in the past which worked, but both were sunk for having unacceptable side effects.

One of them made the man's balls shrink to half size. That finished that. (How many women do you think would take a birth control pill which made their breasts shrink by 50%?)

The other one made men hypersensitive to alcohol; even a couple sips of beer would make him roaring drunk. Considering the lifestyles of most men expected to be in the audience for such a product, this was clearly unacceptable.

In fact there have been many other drugs which had the effect of sterility in men, but they all had the side effect of making the man lose interest in sex. (These are the drugs they talk about in rape cases during the punishment phase as "chemical castration".)

The reason that a pill for women was developed first is that women have a natural mechanism already in place for induced sterility, which kicks in during preganancy. The original birth control pill works by simulating the hormones in a woman's body during pregnancy, thus preventing the ovaries from generating new eggs. (That's why they have such side effects as making the breasts swell; these are all normal reactions in preparation for having a child, and the pill fools the woman's body into thinking this is imminent.)

But once a man reaches puberty, he begins to generate sperm and will continue to do so at a very high rate (millions per day) for the rest of his life, and no natural mechanism exists for shutting that off which could be taken advantage of. That's why development of a pill for men has been so difficult.

It isn't, as has often been intimated, due to a male-induced conspiracy to force women to be responsible for birth control.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:27 PM on July 17, 2000

I agree it's not due to a conspiracy that the pill for men didn't come as soon nor as quickly as a pill for women, but I think it might have something to do with the dominant ways of seeing... I don't know for sure but I think I'm safe in assuming that the doctors/scientists doing the research into birth control are overwhelmingly male, and males view women as "other", which easily becomes "that which is to be experimented on" or "that which is broken and needs to be fixed".
posted by sudama at 9:49 PM on July 17, 2000

I don't agree with that at all. Steven has clearly explained why a female pill is much easier to develop, so where is there any evidence to suggest that scientists wanted to 'experiment' on women?

The female pill emulates a nutural process. The male pill does not. That's why the female pill came first. Female condoms haven't exactly taken off in a big way compared to male condoms, have they? That must mean that men are capable of taking at least some responsibility for birth control.
posted by iamcal at 1:17 AM on July 18, 2000

I agree with iamcal. The female pill is not a conspiracy created by the Elders of Zion, the Iluminati or the capitalist military-industrial complex. Just a 'no-brainer' in comparison to the complexities of producing a safe and reliable male pill
posted by murray_kester at 3:41 AM on July 18, 2000

Wiremommy, your comment is one that seems to come up every time the idea of a birth control pill for men is discussed. I think you (and many others) are missing the point.

You don't need to trust a man to use birth control in the first place: that's what your pill (or norplant, or depo shot, or...) is for. You can control your own fertility already.

Men don't have such luxury - there are exactly two options: condoms or vasectomy. With the arrival of this pill, a man won't need to trust a woman to use birth control either. He'll be able to take responsibility for his own fertility in the same way that a woman can currently take responsibility for hers: safely, temporarily, and with minimum impact on sex.


posted by Mars Saxman at 9:07 AM on July 18, 2000

from the article: "George Rae of the British Medical Association said the male pill could be used when women could no longer take theirs because of high blood pressure or other side-effects."

so this man decides that a woman should take the pill until she can't anymore. /then/ it's the man's responsibility. sick. personally, i think mars has the right idea, that the "male pill" can give men the same power to make their own choices that the pill for women gave women.
posted by raedyn at 2:08 PM on July 19, 2000

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