So we bet that very few of you have ever thought about a male contraceptive pill – why is that?! You know that here at the TL Podcast we champion women and are all for fairness between the genders in the 21st century. That’s why it’s so hard for us to accept that in this day and age, it seems that the development of male contraception has been lagging for decades…! In this week's episode, (Listen Here) we did some digging into why it has taken so long to roll out the red carpet for a male contraceptive pill.
Currently; contraception available to men only is a vasectomy. And then of-course for both men and women there are condoms and the ever reliable; abstinence. In contrast; there is an ever growing plethora of female options with all their weird and wonderful side effects.
Part of the reason we don’t have a popular male birth control now is because of the biology, of course. In women, scientists just have to ensure that a woman doesn’t release that one very predictable timed egg per month by altering her hormones. Whereas men produce sperm on a daily basis… for life (pretty much). Now this all seems very valid and understandable but with all the medical and technological advancements we’ve made as a species up until now, isn’t it funny that there isn’t a male equivalent by now? If it took less than a year to come up with a vaccine for a mutating virus, we are pretty sure there is a lab that can come up with a few contraceptive methods for men.
If you're thinking the same as us.... well… you’re absolutely right to point that out. The biology is just a single factor and it’s not heavy enough by itself to be the ultimate determining factor. Medical research is funded my pharmaceutical companies, not necessarily out of the goodness of their own heart or the desire to help people, but because it makes ‘good business sense’. Studies have simply shown that the time for research and development as well as potentially hundreds of millions on creating male contraceptives just wouldn’t be that beneficial!
We did our own poll on Instagram if Men would take the option of a male contraceptive pill if it was available and only 71% of the men who took the poll said they would take it. This is a far cry from the numbers the female contraceptive pill received when it was first approved. Which shows that family planning is just not essential to a man as much as it is a woman.
A study was conducted in 2016 where men were given injections to decrease their sperm count thereby reducing chances of pregnancy in their female partners. Shockingly enough (not really) the participants experienced those age old side effects – mood swings, acne, depression, weigh gain, changes in libido (sound familiar, ladies?). Due to those safety concerns, the next phase of the study came to a halt. Impressive, right?!
It would also seem that the assessment by the funders was that it wouldn’t make financial sense to pursue these studies if it was unlikely men would be willing to take this on. They fully understood that the reason men would be unwilling is because we live in a society where the pregnancy is apparently 99% the woman’s responsibility, and when women believe this too then they will diligently take their contraceptive pills, injections, coils, patches and all the others because there is no other option.
One of the other factors considered in this decision was that men would be a weak customer base because taking contraception would make them seem less masculine. This is such an accurate representation of a society where women are used to being the ones to change themselves in order to appeal to men, not only visually but hormonally – we are the sex that is more ready to alter our biology because we know that being unmarried and pregnant means that society is unlikely to be sympathetic to the woman.
It’s sad but true; when it comes to the things that can be so medically important to us, it still comes down to the money. The truth that we should really gain from this is that at the core of it, men don’t really appreciate the impact of contraception on women and 8 of 10 really dont want to know! It's the same when you try to talk to a man about period, they always seem to clam up and give you all the room in the world to avoid having the seemingly awkward conversation about blood and menstrual cramps.
Whilst we are taking the time to celebrate, women's day, mother's day and women's month, it’s time to stop hiding the truth of the trials and tribulations we face as women just because he “wouldn’t understand” or “it’s a girl issue”. Plenty of women actually go years without their partner ever seeing them take that pill or go and get their implant replaced. If they don’t see it, then they won’t understand it, and it’s about time the female experience stopped being so shrouded in shame and secrecy, there’s nothing to be ashamed of! Let's challenge society to embrace the bological workings of the female anatomy and let's talk about it!
We’d love to hear your opinions on this, and let us know what your partners think to!! With it having just been International Women’s Day, we want to know what, if anything, this means to you? Are you happy to accept 100% of the responsibility of conception and pregnancy, or is this something your partner would be happy to do (if it was available)?