Should Male Contraceptives Exist?

Reasons why male contraceptives are hard to create.

By Prisha Devaraj / 9 February 2022

Should Male Contraceptives Exist?

Mate, we are tired of waiting! (Source: Glamour)

  • What are contraceptives?
  • Reasons why male contraceptives do not exist yet.
  • Will there be a future for shared responsibility when it comes to contraceptives?

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s about time we rip off this controversial bandage and discuss contraceptives for men and the reason behind their inexistence. In this portal, we do not discriminate. However, we do educate, understand and discuss topics that aren’t heard as much as they should. The only forms of contraception offered for men to this day are condoms and vasectomy. 

Which got us thinking, “why aren’t there various options of contraceptives offered to men after decades of research?” After extensive research, we found substantial proof to back up its inexistence. Still interested? Then join us as we solve the missing pieces to this puzzle.

 

What are contraceptives? 

Should Male Contraceptives Exist?

The silent heroes (Contraceptives) (Source: Everydayhealth)

The main aim of contraceptives is to prevent unplanned pregnancies in hopes of easing family planning decisions within couples. Contraceptives are heroes in disguise due to the millions of unwanted pregnancies it has prevented. 

But how does birth control work? Once a woman ingests birth control/contraceptives, it keeps the egg and sperm apart, leading to a pause in egg production, which ceases the combined sperm and fertilized egg from attaching to the lining in the womb.

Practically speaking, birth control is an important necessity every woman should have the right to and access to. Speaking of important necessities, countries such as the UK provide contraceptives for free, while in Malaysia, contraceptives can easily cost a whopping RM10 – RM55 ringgit in pharmacies. Thankfully, Malaysians can also have access to contraceptives in government clinics that cost only RM1.00 and sometimes it could be free depending on the clinic you go to.

There are at least 15 methods of contraception for women, such as:

  • caps
  • combined pills 
  • female condoms
  • contraceptive implant
  • contraceptive injections
  • contraceptive patches
  • diaphragms
  • intrauterine devices (IUD)
  • intrauterine systems (IUS)
  • natural family planning
  • progestogen-only pill
  • vaginal ring
  • female sterilization. (permanent) 

The list is so long that we hope your attention span is still with us. Men only have access to male condoms and vasectomies as their choice in preventing pregnancies. Talk about inequality, right?

 

Should it be a shared responsibility?

Should Male Contraceptives Exist?

It takes two to tango (Source: Unsplash)

“OMG, I missed my period!”, “Could I be pregnant?”, and  “Did I ensure we had safe sex?” Have you heard women voicing out these reactions? Because we sure have. Men have this false idealization that only women should worry about pregnancies and contraception because it’s a “woman’s thing.” 

Let us kindly disagree with this atrocity. It is both partners’ responsibility to ensure you have safe sex! The safer, the better. Contraception isn’t only used to prevent pregnancies, but it is also used to prevent yourself from contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

It takes two to tango, which is why there shouldn’t be a label on who should be more responsible for practicing safe sex. 

Both genders need to work together and enforce a safe environment. For example, men should always prepare a condom or lubricant while women rely on the pill to have safe assurance while performing sexual intercourse.

 

Why aren’t there male contraceptives?

Should Male Contraceptives Exist?

Is there a future for male contraceptives? (Source: Articlesbase.com)

Here’s a fun fact, did you know that condoms have been around for more than 5000 years? This form of contraceptive is older than your ancestors and men still do not have different alternatives to rely on.

Now back to the burning question. Why is birth control not offered to men? We often misinterpret men thinking they would be too egoistic or selfish to try contraceptives even if they existed, but research begs to differ. 

According to Business Insider, back in 2002, researchers created a petition to ask 9000 men across four continents if they were willing to use contraceptives. 

Shockingly most of them answered “yes” although it was only stated in theory. However, men agreeing to participate in research about male contraceptives is already a positive sign.

Earlier this year, a famous Tik Tok stated men should be the ones using contraceptives instead of women. 

If you’re interested in watching the video just click the link below: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CVbMvBNBARC/?utm_medium=share_sheet 

The woman in the audio quoted, “ One man can impregnate nine women every day for nine months, that’s 2430 pregnancies! While one woman can only get pregnant once within nine months, even if she sleeps with nine men every day for nine months. That’s only one pregnancy! Clearly, society is putting the birth control responsibilities on the wrong gender.”

Here in POKOK, we are all in for women empowerment; however, the inexistence of male contraceptives isn’t due to the lack of interest but mainly biology. 

It’s time to let science take its course. Women can ovulate one or sometimes even two eggs a month, but men produce sperm on a daily basis. Meaning 100 million sperms are produced every single day in the testes.

 

  • Reason #1 why more contraceptives don’t exist. 

Should Male Contraceptives Exist?

Biologist Michael Skinner (Source: Wahisngton state university)

According to Michael Skinner, a biologist based in Washington state, “you can reduce your sperm count over 90% and still be fertile.” For a man to reach infertility, his sperm count has to be somewhere around 1-10 million per millilitre, which is by far impossible, to say the least. Researchers also tried decreasing testosterone levels as an alternative to reduce sperm count; however, with every experiment comes substantial side effects such as:

  • Erectile dysfunction.
  • Lower sex drive.
  • Reduced muscle mass.
  • Decrease in libido

What a wormhole. As soon as scientists find a solution, there is always a problem creeping up on the side. And they say women are complicated. In efforts of not giving up hope, scientists went through another route using different compounds to attack cells that produce sperms, guess who got in the way this time? Yup, it was biology. There is a cell formed in the testes called the germ cell, and it is almost impossible to get through it due to the barrier it creates inside.

 

  • Reason #2 why more contraceptives don’t exist.

When you thought male anatomy was the only problem, here comes a second contender; funding. Research and experiments require tons of cash. Experimenting is determined through trial and error, which is why searching for an alternative isn’t cheap.

Back in 2002, big pharmaceutical companies such as Schering and Organon took an interest in producing male contraceptives. Together, they funded a large clinical trial to test out various methods. 

Soon, these companies merged, forming a company called Merck, where they started focusing on women’s and men’s general health instead of male contraceptives because it was a low priority to them.

  • Could experimental gel be the solution to contraceptives?

Should Male Contraceptives Exist?

Dr. Christina Wang, LA BioMed Researcher (Source: EurekAlert)

According to LA BioMed Researcher Dr. Wang, contraceptives were too risky because the long-term side effects were unknown. No one knew what could happen. Maybe someone could grow an extra toe. That was an exaggeration, but you get our point. 

From all the research and trials, there was just no indication of the possible side effects, and it was uncertain if men would even consider taking hormonal-based contraception. However, there are some promising lines of research going on.

Dr. Wang is experimenting on a gel that could lower testosterone levels in the testes while maintaining testosterone levels in the body which could be an alternative contraceptive for men in the future. Let’s keep our fingers crossed in hopes of hearing successful male contraceptives in the future. Feel free to comment down your opinions on male contraceptives.

 

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