Is A Birth Control Pill For Men A Possibility?

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New research is exploring the possibility of a birth control pill for men that would lower sperm counts through the use of genetic therapies.

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Photo: Shimrit Abraham (Shemer on Flickr)

Could a birth control pill for men be possible?

Usually when we talk about birth control as sexual health educators, we’re talking to women. We’re talking to women about both birth control for themselves (through chemical means like birth control pills or injections) and for their partners (how to negotiate condom use with male partners).

The burden seems to fall to females (at least in heterosexual couples) to negotiate birth control use and, unfortunately, the cost of said birth control.

New Research on Gene Therapy as Birth Control

But the future of birth control might be able to even out the load of preventing pregnancy, if University of Iowa researchers have a say.

They recently published a study in the American Journal of Human Genetics which looks at a genetic disorder that causes sperm to slow down rapidly, thus making it more difficult for the sperm to penetrate the egg of a female and cause pregnancy. The researchers are only in the early stages for now and haven’t even begun animal testing, let alone trials for men.

There are some substantial concerns with genetic birth control treatments for men, namely that this type of birth control would be similar to a vasectomy and could make the men sterile for a lifetime which narrows down the possible users considerably.

Current & Past Birth Control Options for Men

Other birth control options for men in the past have revolved around hormonal treatments that reduce the function of the testes (which produce sperm) but also negatively effected sexual drive, yet another problem for potential users (although lots of hormonal birth control influences the sex drive of women, but we still continue to use it on a widespread basis).

An interesting thought. I hope the researchers continue their work so that the burden of preventing pregnancy can be shared equally among sexual partners. In the mean time, preventing pregnancy is as easy as A-B-C (abstinence, birth control, and/or condoms).

Natalie Ingraham (M.P.H.)

is a recent graduate of Indiana University and is now pursuing a Ph.D. in Medical Sociology at University of California San Francisco.
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Comments

  • Liar

    I can hear it now “No, baby! It's cool, I'm on the pill”!!!