You know that moment in television and the movies (oh yeah, and in real life) when a couple is headed towards the bedroom and the guy asks, "Are you on the pill?" Well, soon enough it might be the lady asking the guy that.
Researchers in Australia and Britain are currently working on a male birth control pill that would not cause any bodily harm to the man or his future offspring. Previous attempts have been made at a male pill, but they tended to have adverse effects on the man's sperm or libido. With this new method, rather than affecting sperm development, as had been attempted before, the pill acts on the nervous system. The pill is being described as similar to a vasectomy, just a temporary one.
So far the research has all been done on mice, and the results were that the mice acted normally with the exception of not releasing any little mice sperms. After the treatment had concluded, the mice were all back to their normal selves, mice-style libidos and all. Of course, something like this could take a lot of time, potentially up to ten or so years, but the initial results are encouraging. We may eventually have a form of non-invasive male birth control with no side effects. Sounds awesome! Right?
But there are some larger implications here - will guys do this? I was reading through the comment sections on a couple of websites talking about this and was pretty blown away by the varying responses. Of course there are those men saying, "Great, sign me up." But there are just as many saying hell-to-the-no. Why? For one, guys don't seem to believe that there will be no potential health concerns, which is understandable. Obviously lots of testing will have to be done, but if there are no side effects, would you still say no? Lots of men have no idea that the female birth control pill actually has many side effects. Some good, but just as many bad. Headaches, nausea, dizziness and bleeding are all very common side effects. And how about those mood swings! Holy crap. I had a friend who seriously contemplated murdering her husband just because she had changed her birth control. It's no picnic, but we ladies put up with it all the time and you don't hear us complaining (well, that's not true, we complain constantly).
The other surprising responses I saw were from women who say they wouldn't trust a man to be responsible enough to take the pill. Well that's pretty sad. Rather than put your confidence in a man's ability to take care of business himself, women would rather just do it themselves. This seems somewhat unfair; how can women just naturally assume men are irresponsible and careless? Ladies, are we being martyrs? They don't want us to get pregnant either. Or is that we think they might not care as much if we do or don't? It's like the old "I swear I used a condom" bit; the guy walks away scot-free, the woman, not so much.
On the flip side, there were also comments from men about now being able to stop women from using guys to get pregnant. It would be nice to think this never happens, but we've all seen enough Maury shows to know that it does happen sometimes. With a male birth control pill, if you get your lady preggs when she swore up and down to be using her own protection, can you really claim innocence? You would now be free to take matters into your own hands - or just wear a condom, guy.
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What I didn't see come up at all in the comment sections was the religious or governmental angle. While those two words shouldn't even be in the same sentence, it's difficult to pretend that they haven't been secretly playing footsie underneath the table. So, will this new male contraceptive be considered a baby killer, like so many female methods? If those sperms never even leave the male, than how can that be an issue with pro-lifers? But it will be.
A male contraception pill also begs the question: will it be covered by health insurance companies? As women have been fighting this battle for years, will it now be a mixed-gender issue? Doesn't that sound nice?
Obviously, with this drug literally in the lab rat stage, we don't need to start arguing about these concepts right now. But I am sure that if the day ever does come that a legal, safe male birth control pill is available on the market, it will cause quite a ruckus.