General Question

Mariah's avatar

Would a birth control pill for men be biologically possible? If so, why hasn't it been developed?

Asked by Mariah (19272 points ) May 17th, 2012

Does male birth control really have to be limited to condoms and vasectomies, or is the idea of a male birth control pill feasible?

If it isn’t possible, can you explain why (to somebody who isn’t particularly knowledgable on biology)?

If it is possible, why do you think it hasn’t it been developed?

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22 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

You might be interested in this. It’s not a pill, but it’s certainly an alternative to condoms and vasectomies.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Why hasn’t it been developed? Would you (as a woman, personally) trust a man with the job of ensuring you don’t get pregnant?

Blackberry's avatar

There’s no pill, but a single shot is in the works. It lasts 10 years, and is reversible. I can’t wait.

nikipedia's avatar

If I can speak to the biology part of it—developing a birth control method for women was fairly straightforward because female fertility depends on a feedback loop. All we have to do is interrupt that loop with high doses of synthetic hormones, and the body stops ovulating.

I don’t know as much about spermatogenesis. But if you think about it, since dudes are fertile 100% of the time after puberty, and women are fertile about 6% of the time from puberty to age 40, it makes sense to me that it’s easier to prevent female fertility than male.

tedd's avatar

Such pills are in the works, but none have been successful or safe enough to clear through the FDA yet.

@Lightlyseared I trust women to take their pills, how is it any less trustworthy for men? I feel it’s far more an individual responsibility issue than an issue of the sexes.

jrpowell's avatar

@tedd :: I can bail and have nothing to do with the result of me forgetting the pill. Women don’t have that luxury.

That is why they should have the ultimate say in all things involving lady parts.

bongo's avatar

@SavoirFaire Amazing! This is the best thing I have heard about all day! Hope it arrives in the UK soon!

Kardamom's avatar

Because if a man “forgot” to take his pill, or lied and told you that he had taken it, when he didn’t, it would still be the woman who ended up pregnant. Most women wouldn’t want to take that chance.

tedd's avatar

@Kardamom @johnpowell As if I would have no involvement or responsibility should my partner become pregnant? I understand that they are the one who gets pregnant, but it’s not as if it wouldn’t also be a life altering event for me. Moreover, if I’m in a committed relationship with a girl, why is she somehow more responsible than I that I can’t be trusted to remember to take birth control. I can spout of half a dozen names of girls I know who were on birth control, but didn’t take it properly or forgot to take it all the time and ended up pregnant. I take/took the chance with every girl I regularly slept with who was on birth control… if she was screwing up or lying to me about taking the BC, I very well could have ended up a father.. that’s not something I just shrug off.. nor is it something I can think many men would shrug off. So again, how is it a male/female issue, and not a simple personal responsibility issue?

Blackberry's avatar

Are there really that many men who want kids that badly? Wtf is wrong with some people lol.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Pharmaceutical companies have decided that they think men don’t really want other methods of birth control, so they aren’t going to put the finishing touches on development and make it available.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t know what pharmaceutical companies have decided, but I don’t know how many men would want or be willing to take a male pill. My guess is 15% or less. I don’t know what I would do as a woman who was partnered with a man who said he was taking the pill. I have a feeling it wouldn’t make any difference. Women will make their own protective plans regardless of what a man says. Besides, the pill doesn’t protect against STDs, so a condom is still in the mix.

Honestly, I don’t see how a male pill would change things much. It’s not like infertile males run around advertising they can’t get you pregnant. Or maybe they do. What do I know. Are there any women who have been propositioned by men who say they’ve had a vasectomy, so bc isn’t necessary?

Kardamom's avatar

@tedd Either way you look at it, whether the man or the woman takes the pill, or doesn’t take the pill, or lies about it, or is or isn’t in a comitted relationship, it’s always going to be the woman who ends up pregant, if the pill is not taken. Always.

And I’ll re-state that most women would not be willing to take that chance. You might be a great guy, and you might always take your pill (or remember to take it), but most plenty of men wouldn’t.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@wundayatta Or… 55% global, 40% American men would be willing to try male contraception that wasn’t a condom.

I think many women would still take care of their own forms of birth control. So what? That doesn’t make the male side pointless; the more birth control forms being used, the safer everyone is.

incendiary_dan's avatar

My memory is hazy on it, but I thought there was one that just wasn’t produced for lack of interest. The one I’m thinking of was based around a compound found in cottonseed oil.

rooeytoo's avatar

I am with the crowd that says who would trust that the man was telling the truth. When you have a dog desexed in Australia they put a tattoo in its ear. I always thought the same should be true for men who claim to have had a vasectomy.

@johnpowell – nailed it way up there ^ (pardon the pun)

JLeslie's avatar

It is not only a question of a woman trusting a man, some men want to be sure there is protection. The biggest problem I see with the whole thing is men are loath to put on condoms anyway, once they get a pill they will possibly be even less likely. In a long term relationship who takes the pill might be negotiated and the partner trusted. In a casual hook-up or new relationship there is nothing wrong with both people protecting themselves from pregnancy.

@tedd But, you didn’t use a second method and you could have right? I guess maybe that is one reason pharm companies might think men won’t take the drug.

tedd's avatar

@Kardamom The majority of the guys I know wouldn’t screw it up or take the chance of getting a girl pregnant, because they don’t want to be a father just yet. Just because the girl is the one who gets pregnant, doesn’t mean we aren’t effected.

@JLeslie The only other method really available to me at the moment are condoms. In non-committed relationships or what have you I have used them pretty frequently (not 100% of the time, but most of the time). The reason I don’t use them, whenever I don’t use them (including now that I’m in a committed relationship with a girl who is on BC)... is largely that they are uncomfortable and inhibit the actual sex-act (which has been agreed upon with virtually every girl I’ve ever used one with)... and secondarily (but much less importantly) the added cost when you’re already paying for and using a method that’s even more effective.

@wundayatta I don’t have an actual study to point to, but I can say for fact that at least half a dozen of my guy friends and myself would sign up for male birth control right away. In fact I would rather I take it so my g/f could stop… she’s not a big fan of the effect it has on her mood.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@tedd Did you read the article that @SavoirFaire gave in the first post on this thread? Would you or your male friends be willing to go this route? I would be elated if my partner would be willing to use this form of birth control, as long as it proves not to be harmful.

tedd's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Didn’t have to, I was already familiar with it from my own research into the topic prior to this thread :) .... So long as the proper testing is done to ensure it has no unforseen medical downsides (like cancer or something)... then I would have no problem whatsoever doing this.

(some back ground on it though, I legitimately looked into the idea of a vasectomy with the idea of having it reversed when I was ready for children… ended up not going forward with any planning/research when I found they’re not always reversible, and the cost can be quite high to store sperm… let alone the procedure itself)

thesparrow's avatar

Hormonally, no. Nothing would work on men because sperm is not related to hormones the way the eggs in a woman are related to hormones.

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