Fact of the matter is that it's still about 5 to 10 years away. It's taking forever for a men's pill to come to market.
What's taking so long?
Well, the issue is not as simple as it might first appear. Sure, there are still some technical hurdles to overcome, but the delay in developing a MBCP has definite political, economic and even discriminatory aspects to it.
Barriers to entry do in fact exist for the male pill—disempowering barriers that men should most certainly be aware of—including those set up by sexist women who belittle male reproductive accountability, unfair gender biases, self-serving feminists who refuse to relinquish reproductive power, and a risk averse Big Pharma.
And men themselves are also to blame. Far too many guys have gotten comfortable over the idea that birth-control pills are exclusive to women. Most men have not yet realized the implications of having access to a pill of their own.
Consequently (and quite disturbingly), conversations about the male pill have migrated outside the sphere of male interests. Women tend to frame the issue as it pertains to their concerns and their needs, while politicians and pharmaceutical companies neglect the issue, unsure as to what it means to them.
Ultimately, however, this is about men. It's about men gaining fair and equal access to a powerful contraceptive that will finally allow them to have the same control over their reproductive processes as women—an outcome that will greatly benefit male interests.
How the male pill works
An international consortium of physicians recently revealed a formula for "safe, effective and reversible" hormonal contraception for males.
The breakthrough involves progestin, which is found in women's birth-control pills and the male sex hormone testosterone. Progestin helps suppress ovulation when used in an oral contraceptive and it appears to function in the same way for men, suppressing the rate and extent of sperm production. The developers claim that this contraceptive will be as effective as a vasectomy.
Men will have to take the pill for about 2 to 3 months to deplete their sperm. It will take a similar amount of time to restore normal levels of fertility once off the pill.
For the most part, both men and women appear to be in favor of the MBCP.
Trouble is, most men and women don't truly understand why it's so important. Particularly women.
Now, I don't mean to begrudge women their reasons for welcoming the male pill. It's all good.
I think it's great that couples will finally be able to share the burden of birth control.
And it will undoubtedly be a welcome alternative for those women who cannot take the pill or other contraceptives (of which there are many).
There's also the issue of accessibility. A 2004 report from the Reproductive Health Technologies Project calls contraceptive availability an "unfinished revolution." Indeed, we need more contraception and more options.
But this is fundamentally an issue of male reproductive control
This is a male issue about male reproduction.
And all that it entails.
The pill will resolve a number problems that men typically face.
It will be dramatically less invasive and severe than a vasectomy—a procedure that can be reversed, but one that's quite involved and not always possible.
The male pill will also prove to be much more reliable than condoms or withdrawal which can have worst-case failure rates of 15 and 27 percent respectively (!!!).
Also, the male pill will have a profound sociological impact similar to what happened after the advent of the female birth-control pill. This will prove to be a seminal event as far as the men's movement is concerned.
In fact, a strong case can be made that the delay in the male pill has been caused by an underdeveloped male social movement. The sense of urgency to develop a MBCP has been quelled by the dissenters and the disconnected. Men need to be aware of those forces that work to prevent the advent of not just the male pill, but a cohesive and powerful men's rights movement itself.
The possibility of a male pill has caused a number of women to pause and reflect on the implications.
Should a woman believe a guy who says, "Trust me, baby, I'm on the pill."?
Most women would likely say no. It's doubtful that women would put faith in men to stick to a strict schedule of birth-control pill popping. Men are supposed to be untrustworthy and irresponsible, right? After all, they're not the ones who would have to deal with a pregnancy.
Aside from what this says about negative male stereotyping, this complaint neglects three fundamental issues.
First, people must take control over their own reproductive processes and not rely on the other person. This goes for both men and women. The MBCP will finally help men know for certain that they have virtually no chance of impregnating a partner.
Which immediately brings to mind the problem of trust that many men are confronted with today. Should men trust women when they make the same claim? How many times has a man been duped into fatherhood by an opportunistic woman?
Well, according to a Cornell University study, over a million American births each year result from pregnancies which men did not intend. What does this say about female reproductive accountability?
The male pill, will at the very least, help men avoid this risk.
Second, the MBCP strictly deals with contraception. It will do nothing to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. The advent of a male pill will not eliminate the need to wear a condom as far as STDs are concerned.
And third, most men do in fact deal with a pregnancy and the introduction of an unexpected child -- be it parental or fiscal responsibilities. There are more accountable single dads who have joint custody of their children than ever before in history.
An unwelcome power shift
As Glenn Sacks has said, "Power is the reward which comes with responsibility."
Indeed, because women have had to bear the burden of contraception, they have gained control over an integral component of human life, namely reproduction. The MBCP threatens to wrest that control from women to men.
Quite understandably, some feminists are concerned about this possibility.
And, I'm sorry to say, that's too bad.
Men are currently at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to the choice of reproduction -- but this is now set to change.
As an example, according to the 2004 National Scruples and Lies Survey (which polled 5,000 women in the United Kingdom), 42% of women claimed they would lie about contraception in order to get pregnant, regardless of the wishes of their partners.
Other evidence suggests that over 10% of children turn out not to be the offspring of the expected father when DNA tests are done, suggesting that many men obliviously help in the raising of children who are not actually theirs.
This is no laughing matter. Child support rates are increasing, with some fathers giving their ex's as much as 15 to 25% of their take home pay per child. And it's widely known that fathers are second class citizens in the courts. For example, in some U.S. states a father cannot present DNA evidence to disprove paternity.
For those men who truly don't want to have children—something that is completely within their rights—the MBCP will help them achieve that level of control.
And again, female claims that this will allow men to forever shirk their paternal responsibilities and live in perpetual adolescence are not just gross generalizations, but sexist statements of the highest order.
The Man is holding men down
Quite surprisingly, Big Pharma has dragged their feet in developing the MBCP. Despite over 20 years of research, they claim that there's little money to be made.
In fact, that's one of the main reasons that the pharmaceutical firms Bayer and Organon abandoned their male pill programs last year.
This is because men are not demanding it
Men are clearly not showing Big Pharma that they want a male pill.
Research shows that most males are not ready for personal birth control. A recent MSN-Zogby poll revealed that only 14% of Americans would definitely take it or insist that their partner take it. And tellingly, the study indicated that women are slightly more excited about the prospect than men.
While at the same time other studies show that men do in fact want alternative contraception options.
What's going on here, guys?
Perhaps confusion has something to do with it. There's a very underdeveloped sense of a male collective consciousness. It appears that men, for the most part, don't yet realize the importance of reproductive control—something women have, for obvious reasons, been very aware of for quite some time now.
Some men, for example, dismiss the male pill on account of their fear that it would transgress their masculinity.
This is exactly the mentality that has to be abandoned and replaced by some more forward thinking ideas that will work help equalize not just reproductive options, but other gender issues that set men at a disadvantage or limit biological potential.
Times they are a changin'
Perhaps I'm understating the fact that 14% of men are ready to use the pill. That's a significant number unto itself. Maybe it's a positive sign that attitudes are changing and that broader acceptance is on its way.
In all likelihood, demand will probably increase once the pill is finally made available. It will become real for men once it becomes a real option.
And hopefully it will wake men up to the possibilities. Issues of gender, sexuality and reproduction are not just women's issues. They're a vital element of the collective human condition.
It seems to me that the role of "self-serving feminists who refuse to relinquish reproductive power" is overplayed here. First off, men remain unable to choose to have a baby, barring various rape/blackmail/imprisonment methods that are thankfully in decline because of feminism. Second, how big a role are those awful feminists really playing in delaying MBCPs? It seems to me that this is far more relevant: "A recent MSN-Zogby poll revealed that only 14% of Americans would definitely take it or insist that their partner take it. And tellingly, the study indicated that women are slightly more excited about the prospect than men."
True feminism is also a men's movement, since we (men) hurt ourselves as well as women with our brittle, reactionary stance toward gender roles. Those courts wouldn't be so biased against us if it weren't for the infamous behavior of those who insist that raising children is women's work. I'm sure there's plenty of feminists out there being unhelpful or even counterproductive, but holy moly, are they really the big problem?
That's bizarre. Thank you for pointing this out.
I'm failing to see how an MBCP "wrests" control //away// from women by giving men the same power they //will still// retain. That's like saying copying is stealing. The only real power they'd be losing is the ability to dupe a man into conceiving a child against his will. Is that really the power they're talking about?
This is also amusing when you consider how some transhumanists consider non-remedial/therapeutic modifications (of which they use contraception as the prime actually-existing example) to be "inevitable" augmentations that "everyone will want". Apparently, commercial R&D processes can't even find a way to make it available because it isn't profitable enough for them. On top of that, //almost no one actually wants it//.
Don't get me wrong - *I* would very much like to try it (when it becomes available, affordable and safe). I just think that transhumanists would do well to be prepared to accept that not everyone - and perhaps not even most - will want "enhancements".
And furthermore, I'm chalking this up as yet another thing markets can't seem to deliver.
Progestin is not found in testosterone. It's a synthetic analog of progesterone, which is chemically related to testosterone (all sex hormones are related).
Regarding true equal reproductive rights, the only advance that will accomplish that is the development of artificial wombs. I discuss this very briefly here:
Honestly while I agree the male pill will have an impact, I doubt it will have the same impact as the original Pill. After all, there's already been a pill.
The real change will happen once somebody makes a working external womb.
Heh, interesting: two votes for the external womb. Not quite sure what to make of that given that this was intended to be a discussion of male reproductive issues and the men's movement.
nato -- admittedly, I may have overstated the the influence that women and femnists have in inhibiting the development of this pill. But I will say the sentiments I described in this post do in fact exist. My article was largely instigated by a radio show I was listening to in which the female guests routinely slighted male accountability and the need for a pill.
So, from a social perspective, the struggle to normalize these issues and the importance of having a male contraceptive is very real.
Interesting development. I think the relevant impediments to widespread use are, 1) as you said, lack of interest among men, and 2) cost, depending on what it is.
We've been hearing about the cocaine vaccine for years, but development has been slow, because Big Pharma doesn't see large potential revenues. The target audience is generally poor, lacks health insurance, and insurance providers don't have good coverage for addiction (like most mental health problems).
As always, the technical aspects are only one part of the problem. The social, political and economic aspects are the other parts.
Athena: George didn't say that progestin is a "part of" testosterone. He correctly pointed out that the drug would be a cocktail of progestin and testosterone.
nato welch, I suppose equalization is a better description than 'wresting control.' Women, after all, have still chosen to reproduce despite having so-called control over reproduction. I don't think that men en masse will decide to stop reproducing and hold the species hostage. So this apprehension that's voiced by a minority of feminists is definitely overstated.
I don't doubt that this "perpetual male adolescent" stereotype has some truth to it. In fact, I recognise some of that in myself, but... why does it happen?
It's a confusion of cause and effect: if 42% of women would consider resorting to deception to become pregnant, is it any wonder men are reluctant to "commit"? When the costs of rearing children in this overpopulated world are soaring, and the extended family support system is a relic from history?
I really don't get the remark about men shirking their "parental responsibility" towards non-existent children. What could be more responsible than not fathering unwanted children in the first place? That's right: unwanted. If only one of the two parents wants that child, it's unwanted by the other parent. That doesn't mean that it won't become wanted and loved over time, even before birth, but the deception is not forgotten. See you on the Jerry Springer and Maury shows, or even Dr. Phil.
Only 14% of people would willingly take a new, untested drug, with unknown long-term side-effects? Why, maybe there's some sense in America after all. Let's see the polls after the Phase III trials are complete and published.
Seriously, take it: both the pill and the isn't-child-bearing-wonderful-fantastic-and-part-of-being-able-to-identify-yourself-as-human whooplah. I don't want any of it.
I, for one, welcome our new penis-and-womb bearing overlords.
On the one hand, you're saying that men are being unfairly portrayed as unaccountable by feminists. On the other hand, you cite the MSN-Zogby poll showing that men are in large part unexcited about the prospect of male birth control. Little bit of a contradiction, I feel.
You hint at the cause of the problem several times throughout the post - the lack of a men's movement, a collective drive to foster capability, responsibility, and accountability in men. I think this is a huge unaddressed issue in our society.
I agree with cliff. The women's movement is addressing sexual issues, or trying to at any rate. But it's an unbalanced equation (which means that technically it's not an equation) - men need to pick up the slack.
I know what you mean about male stereotyping; the first thing I thought when I was reading this over was a mixture of "This is really cool" and "I'll bet a lot of men are going to find a way to use this to be irresponsible." The problem is, you're right, there's no men's consciousness about sexuality. Aside from condom use, there's really not that much thinking about it going on.
The historical reasons for this probably include a lot of women's oppression, and oppressibility, for that matter. What could be more inequitable than something you must do for the sake of species continuance, which half of all people have no choice in, where the half without the choice become incapacitated thereby, and which social precedent sets responsibility for on the shoulders of the half with the choice?
It's obvious why feminism came first, but the progress will slow and slow from now on until men start getting their act together, and I think this pill will be a part of that. How often do you have to take it? Did you say? It'll be a bit iffy at first, but social pressures and inertia aside, the ease of use of such a thing, and from what you've said, the apparently enormous efficacy, I think will contribute to its ultimately becoming pretty normalised.
When men find themselves routinely doing something for pragmatic reasons which nevertheless raises their thinking about sexual issues (and condoms will still contribute in terms of thinking about STIs), and raises it in such a regular manner, which is not itself tied immediately to the sex act, they will gradually grow themselves consciousness about it.
This little pill is a seed (not literally). This is really cool!
Congratulations on a thoroughly researched and well written article. It is refreshing and encouraging to finally see other writers and citizen advocates connecting the dots and correctly identifying the important social, political and economic dynamics pertaining to the issue of male contraception.
Although I have to say that some of the intellectually cloaked but profoundly ignorant and stereotypical comments posted here were far less impressive.
So if you intend on pursuing anything related to the highly contentious (winner takes all) issue of reproductive equity for men prepare yourself for more ignorance, demagoguery and even personal attacks.
I know because I’ve been there and done that many, many times while producing my own public access tv show on cable television. I didn’t get wore down or discouraged and I still do believe Franklin was right about the pen being mightier than the sword. But I also came to realize that negotiating with people in the court of public opinion when you have no leverage is an exercise in futility.
The biggest problem is that most people believe that there is no undetectable male contraceptive available today simply because the FDA has not formally approved a male birth control pill. And as long as that mis-perception exists the demagogues will continue to confuse and scare the public with exaggerated side effects and unfounded social issues to assure that they never do. And it’s a pretty good tactic because it’s worked for decades.
But the reality is that there are undetectable male contraceptive options for men equal to the effectiveness of the female pill that have far fewer side effects.
For example a man who has high blood pressure could use the drug Nifedipine to treat his problem and receive the additional benefit of a drug that prevents your sperm from binding to the egg in a woman’s uterus. And it goes to work in less than two days according to Dr. Susan Benoff. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BJI/is_3_10/ai_60300659
Also there’s Dr. Chris Jenks the foremost authority in the United States on the subject of testicular heating. You can find the results of his work here. http://www.puzzlepiece.org/bcontrol/malebc.html
And if you want to find out even more about undetectable contraceptive options for men check out some of these sites.
The reasons I took the time to share all this with you today is
(a)I liked your article for the reasons I stated above.
(b)I wanted to offer some tangible solutions to this dialog.
In the final analogy it is highly unlikely that the FDA will be releasing any male contraceptive pills to the public anytime soon based on their past performances.
That is until men do what women did in the late 1950’s when they started taking the drug Enovid http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/pill/peopleevents/e_searle.htmloff-label as a female birth control pill and forced the issue.
Thanks, Larry! I'll be sure to check out those links. Sounds fascinating.
There was another male contraceptive (that has zero side effects) I failed to mention in my last post. I guess I was typing too fast or something. But its called IMPLANON and it was just approved by the FDA and rushed to market about two years ago.
Now of course the first thing you’ll notice when you arrive at the product’s official website is that this is a female contraceptive. And so you may wonder why I said it’s a male contraceptive.
Well because in the real world any implanted female contraceptive is also male verifiable. And that makes it a male’s contraceptive.
For example my nephew Little Tony just got married last year. And that boy is like a rabbit. But he’s also a great kid that doesn’t need any unwanted surprises until he finishes college. So I gave him a little cash to get her implanted (before the wedding). And I’m happy to say there’s been no accidents in the past 15 months. Every time he comes by the house he’s always thanking his good old uncle Larry for helping him out.
Personally I find it more than a little offensive for anyone to denigrate men for not wanting to 'try' an experimental male birth control pill. With the well documented bias of the family courts and the extremely aggressive enforcement of excessive child support/alimony, 'trying' a male birth control pill is like playing russian roulette while 'trying' the world's first bullet proof vest/helmet: quite simply, if the thing doesn't work - even once - your life is ruined. Offer a highly publicized, watertight, permanent and all-encompassing legal exemption against any subsequent 'obligations' for those men who agree to enroll in the trials of such a pill and you might get a reasonable response rate, but even with all that, all other reasons aside, with the current legal and political climate being what it is, many men will be reluctant.
I don’t understand your logic mark. Maybe because it isn’t logic at all, it’s fear. And maybe you’re one of the feminist demagogues I spoke about in my earlier post. At any rate I'll give the benefit of doubt- this time.
The experimental contraceptive pill I suggested has a proven track record of working on 95% of the male population. And it and its effectiveness can be verified (in advance) using a test called the S.P.A test.
And that’s a whole lot better than what you’ve gotten from the FDA. Which is nothing.
Nifedipine was first approved by the FDA over 25 years ago and it’s side effects have well documented on over one million patients. And it is one of the top-10 medications prescribed in the United States.
So there you are mark, all the (facts) and references to verifiable documentation you need to correct your misunderstandings. But somehow I feel facts are just not enough for you. So let me try this another way.
Let’s say you come home one day and your house was on fire. And one of your (already existing) kids was trapped in an upstairs bedroom. Would you risk your life to try and save him? Or would you play it safe and wait for the better trained, better equipped, professional firemen to arrive?
I know what I would do. And it wouldn’t be safe. But I’m not so sure about you.
Here’s the point, whenever you have to make a tough decision in life (and this is one of the toughest ones a man will ever make) you have to weight all the variables. And give each one the proper weight they deserve. And your sperm IS your future kid (as far in your contribution goes). So protecting it should be paramount to you. Even if there are risks.
Now you can play it safe and wait for the firemen at the FDA to arrive and save your future kids or you can develop a little fortitude and do what I (and many other men) have done and save them yourself.
And if that's “a little offensive” to you, you're “a lot” offensive to me.
Whoa there, Larry Brown.
Where's all this hostility coming from?
I didn't see anything in mark's comment to warrant some of your statements.
Whoa back at ya cliff.
I’m sorry if I hurt your buddy’s feelings. But it wasn’t hostility. It was the frustration that comes from being attacked by people that don’t even understand you’re trying to help them.
I really hope you and mark don’t end up family court someday. Because then you’ll really know what hostility is.
If it makes you feel any better, you've linked to a lot of relevant information on the topic, and have obviously done your research. I had previously no idea that viable male contraceptives were available. Thanks for the heads up.
I'm just curious about why your arguments are swathed in personal attacks. Everybody else seemed to be having a civil discussion.
Stop being such a wussy and give it up with the “personal attacks” accusations. It’s gotten old already.
But the reason I feel so passionately about issues concerning men and fathers rights and male contraception in particular is because I see a steady stream of philosophically misguided guys just like you and your buddy Mark marched into my court room every day by their ex-girlfriends and ex-wives seeking full custody and child support orders.
And in the vast majority of the cases I have to grant it to them because my hands are tied. You guys are just walking sperm banks and ATMs. And what gets me is you're always so surprised when you lose everything. Like a dopey dear in the headlights. Don't you know anything about the way law works?
Here's the thing guy, anyone that subscribes to a philosophical ideology that is not in line with their own best legal interest is a fool. Because we are a nation of laws. Not a nation of ideologies.
So I don't care if you've been a good little feminist male and done the dishes and changed the baby for your wife or girlfriend when I see you. I'm going to take up to 35% of your GROSS income anyway.
Basically what I'm trying to say to you men is you need to stop waiting on the government to do something for you that you can do for yourself and take control of your own reproductive destinies.
That way you'll never have to meet an S.O.B like me. And yes I know I'm an S.O.B.
Of course I'm sure I said something too harsh, inappropriate or unnecessary so, I apologize in advance.
And by the way, Larry Brown is only my pen name.
"And by the way, Larry Brown is only my pen name."
...what? Did you think I was going to try to look your name up and go after you?
Of course it's a pen name. You're just some self-important jerk on the internet. There's a billion of you out there.
I have no reason to believe that you know what you're talking about. I'm done with this argument.
Cliff and Larry: You guys are welcome to resume this conversation, but not here. It's starting to regress badly.
I don't see how an external womb wouldn't tie into male reproductive issues. Women's eggs can be harvested, men's sperm can be donated. If there is an external womb, a man can be the one responsible for housing the fetus for the duration of the pregnancy. Men would have access to all components to make a child, the donated ova that they purchased to place in the external womb they purchased and their own sperm or they can even purchase that if they want too. This can be beneficial for many different people. Same-sex male couples, a man who may want to raise a child with his significant other but she may not be able to withstand the physiologic stress of pregnancy, a single man who does want to start a family, and I am sure other men may decide to use it if they so desire. A uterus (womb) is an inherently female reproductive organ, so a different name would probably be more suitable. But I think the concept would allow for more men to be self-reliant in their reproductive choices, since they would no longer have to rely on women to supply the womb.
I would take the pill for sure! Can't wait. No unwanted pregnancies for me!
I think a oral contraceptive for males is a great idea. That way women wouldn't be able to trick men into getting them pregnant. Men should have a say in whether or not they have children.
Does the whole "women tricking men into getting them pregnant" thing *really* still happen all that often? I feel I have to suspect that the incidence of that sort of thing is far smaller than seems assumed in a lot of men's rights-type griping about women. By all means , let's get a male BCP going, if only so no one can hide their distrust of women behind that supposed danger.
to "larry brown" - "It was the frustration that comes from being attacked by people that don’t even understand you’re trying to help them. "
Hahaaah! What a great laugh, thanx for that.
Why should you or anyone be surprised that your offers of "help" may seem great to you but to anyone who has not asked for help it's more than a little patronizing and insulting. Read some Dale Carnegie, at the very least, "Larry".
As to the actual point at-hand:
It should surprise no one that a brand new pill from Big Pharma is enough to give pause - no matter what that pill is for. Sure, there's a whole market of ready sheep for anything BP can concoct, but it will take some time before a survey sample will actually admit to liking it.
As an unmarried man by choice, I don't see a terrible need for this pill: I use spermicidal condoms or abstain entirely. It seems like the marketing push for this should really be toward married and middle-aged couples. Just a thought.
As a female, I think this is a great thing - The more birth control options for BOTH genders, the better. Preventing one's sperm from impregnating a woman and abandoning a child already born are two completely different things. It's already possible for men to lie about having had a vasectomy just as some women lie about birth control, so I don't really see much difference there. The best is if BOTH partners use contraception so that NEITHER can solely blame the other one for forgetting(which does happen) or scheming.
Thanks for the information, well no doubt that it will be a breakthrough in the development of a male birth-control pill (MBCP). Tubal Reversal is a procedure which gives such woman a chance of pregnancy who already their tube blocked (tubal ligation) http://www.mybabydoc.com is all about this.
Hello, I like the theme that you post on your blog, I think it is very important to also have contraceptive methods for men, this pill you mention in your blog has caused a world of discord between men and mujeres.En years ago was very common in combination generic viagra with birth control pills. It is no secret that the use of birth control pills may cause a disturbance in the female reproductive tract, therefore good that the men would break that social barrier and also we can use them.
Here I wanna some information about a Medical term that is called Tubal reversal and most of women’s didn’t know about it. So here I m providing you useful information…
A tubal reversal is a procedure to reconnect the fallopian tubes in a woman who has previously undergone surgical sterilization, known as tubal ligation. In a tubal reversal operation, the surgeon removes the portion of each fallopian tube that has been blocked or cut. Once the damaged portion has been removed, the tubes are reconnected to form a complete, open fallopian tube.
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