/The Male Pill: swallowing your way to responsibility

The Male Pill: swallowing your way to responsibility

Researchers are getting closer and closer to developing new methods of male contraception. This might be a way to share the responsibility of contraceptive more between men and women.

Contraception is mostly seen as the burden of women, or at least that is how a lot women feel. The solution for that, an alternative form of male contraception, is yet to be brought on the market. Until then, you could send your sex partners a payment request for your contraception. At least, that is what Dutch journalist Milou Deelen did.

The contraceptive pill for women has been around since the 1960’s, and after the pill, various other methods for female contraception were developed. But for men, the options stay limited. Either the – often unpopular – condom or a more definitive solution: the vasectomy. New forms of male contraception have been in the making for some years.

But it could still take a while before those new forms of contraception are here, states Dr. David Serfaty, president of the International Consortium for Male Contraception (ICMC). ICMC is a network of health care professionals, all devoted to either medical or socio-cultural aspects of male contraception. The different methods that are being developed include a nonhormonal gel that gets injected into the tube that the sperm swims through, and a male version of the contraceptive pill. “That gel will probably still take about 8 years to develop. The male pill 10 years or even more. Doing research and testing these methods takes a very long time,” Serfaty says.

In the meantime, men should be made aware of the difference in responsibility when it comes to contraception, thought Dutch journalist Milou Deelen. Therefore, she decided to send a payment request to the men she had slept with over the past two years.

A penny for your contraception
In the Netherlands, most women have to pay for their own contraception from the age of 21. Before that it is included in your basic insurance. The costs for the contraceptive pill are around 30 euros a year. “In the description of the payment request I put ‘our contraceptive costs’,” Deelen explains. “Most of them didn’t understand at first. Then I explained: I’ve not made you a dad for the past two years, so it only seems fair that we share the costs for that.”

Her action got mixed reactions from the men she sent the message to. “Some were totally supportive and immediately transferred the money. Others said that they didn’t want to pay. ‘I’m not going to pay a chick I had sex with a year ago,’ one guy said. Another one started comparing it to a beer he bought me on that night.” Deelen donated the received money to Parsemus, an organization that does research on new male contraceptive methods.

According to Dr. Serfaty, the male contraceptive pill would be the most likely to be used by men. “When we studied the attitude from men towards male contraceptives in a survey, most of the men chose the male pill over a gel or an injection.”

European men mostly open to it
A study done in 2015 showed that most men from four big countries in Europe, Spain, Germany, Sweden and France, were willing to take the male pill.
Source: Heinemann et al. Attitudes toward male fertility control: results of a multinational survey on four continents. Human Reproduction

Teo Kristjansson (24) from Sweden, would also consider taking the male pill. He says: “I would, but only if I was in some sort of relationship. At the moment, I’m in a relationship so I would definitely take it. If I was single or didn’t see anyone I would use a condom when I was about to have sex, even though the other one would take pills”.

But other men are holding back when it comes to the male pill. They are afraid of the side effects it might have; Íñigo Úriz (20) from Spain, for example. He would only take male contraceptives if they didn’t come with negative side effects. “Anything that would interfere with my growing process for example, or just that would affect my normal routine, I mean, lack of concentration. As long as it has side effects that can be easily mitigated, there would be no problem in taking them. I also wouldn’t take them if they were too expensive.”

Both Serfaty and Deelen think the male pill will help in sharing the responsibility of contraception more. As Deelen explains, “Even just the idea that it is there would help. And in some relationships, the woman has troubles with the pill. She has a really bad reaction to it for example. In situations like that it would be ideal if the man could take up the responsibility of taking the pill.”