Method Monday: Male Birth Control
We know we’re not the only ones who’ve ever lamented the lack of birth control options for guys. We also know there are already some good ways for guys to play a role in preventing pregnancy—and we make it a habit to cross our fingers for the promising prospects on the horizon. Like what, specifically? So glad you asked.
First, the old (and available):
- Condoms. We love them so much that we already posted a Method Monday about them. Why not read it (again?) in honor of HIV Awareness Month while reflecting on the silver lining of birth control for dudes—namely, that one of the few methods available to them also helps protect against STIs?
- Withdrawal (a.k.a. “pulling out”). It’s (at least) as old as the Torah and it’s only as effective as the guy who’s practicing it. That said, withdrawal can be useful when no other method of birth control is available and a 2009 review by the Guttmacher Institute suggests that the oldest method in the book deserves more contraceptive cred than it usually gets. We think of withdrawal as the kung fu of contraception—if you’re going to rely on it, make sure you’re a black belt.
- Sterilization (a.k.a. vasectomy). It’s not considered reversible (though it can be sometimes), but for dudes who are done having kids or who never ever (ever) want them, this is a super-effective option. When it come to sterilization, the male procedure is usually cheaper and simpler than the female version.
And now, the new (and unavailable), by geography:
- Hormones from the West Coast. The newest method to make headlines is a hormonal gel being tested in the U.S. It’s definitely a long way from market-ready, but we wrote last week about a few excellent reasons to be optimistic.
- Vasalgel from India, hormones from China. About a year ago Dr. Grace Shih wrote an article for Bedsider called “Where in the world is birth control for men?” that discussed the two male methods most likely to be available first in the U.S. One’s a hormonal injection being tested in China and the other is Vasalgel (a.k.a. RISUG), an injection that temporarily blocks the tube that carries sperm from the testes to the penis. We can report—not without a hint of regret, since we’d love to be surprised by a breakthrough in the birth-control-for-dudes department—that the article is still relevant.
- The gandarusa pill from Indonesia. A chemical found in a leafy plant in the jungles of Indonesia could work as an effective contraceptive for men—but we’re pretty sure it’ll take its sweet time making it to the U.S. market.
- Ultrasound from the University of North Carolina. We haven’t heard much about it lately, but way back in 2010 University of North Carolina experts said they believed a blast of ultrasound to the testes would be able to safely stop sperm production for six months. Two years later, still staying tuned…
Back when everyone was talking about Vasalgel, Bedsider contributor Veralyn did a vlog asking men—and women—what they thought about men’s role in preventing unwanted pregnancy.
Most of the guys Veralyn talked to said they wouldn’t be up for using birth control even if it were available. Not ones to let anecdotal evidence get us down, we remain hopeful that if the FDA approves it, they will come (oh, unintended pun). In the meantime, guys can play a part in preventing unplanned pregnancy by using the methods that are available now and by providing moral—and possibly economic—support to their partners.
As they say, it takes two.
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