Monday, 20 August 2012

Male Contraceptive Pill in Development. Will it catch on?

This is a piece originally written for The National Student
A recent study claims to have discovered an effective male contraceptive pill which attempts to temporarily halt sperm production.
The pill can be administered in weekly or daily doses and developers have claimed that it does not affect sex drive and that fertility will quickly return to normal levels when subjects stop taking the pill.
This is the first form of non-permanent male contraception produced since the invention of the condom.
This non-permanent form of contraception could eventually become helpful in reducing the number of ‘accident’ babies, especially amongst young couples. It would also place equal responsibility for the prevention of pregnancy on both males and females. This equality of responsibility would hopefully diminish the blame culture of ‘she said she was on the pill’ and ‘he wouldn’t wear a condom’, and leave behind an equal balance of responsibility for contraception and sexual health.

If every individual is given the same opportunity take responsibility for contraception then it will become the duty of every individual to protect themselves as opposed to trusting their sexual partner, and consequently blaming them when things go awry. Approximately only 75% of women use a regular form of contraception so without further protection men are at risk, should they encounter one of the 25% of women not using contraception.
However, questions are being raised on how successful the pill will be and how likely it is that men will be willing to take it. The pill does not completely stop sperm production but rather drastically reduces it, and causes any sperm produced to be of low quality, making it extremely unlikely for pregnancy to occur, but not completely impossible. It should be stressed that the male contraceptive pill should not act as an alternative to using condoms but instead should be used as an extra precautionary measure against pregnancy. If these warnings fail it could lead to a drop in condom usage leading to an increase in the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases. However, up to 25% of people claim they never use condoms so an increase in oral contraception would reduce unwanted pregnancy rates; a slight improvement despite their sexual health still being at risk.
It has also been claimed that the male contraceptive pill has no identified side effects. In comparison. The female contraceptive pill has many identified side effects such as headaches, nausea, weight gain, mood changes, deep vein thrombosis, heart attacks and strokes. Taking these into consideration it would seem outrageous for a male to claim he has worries over his health and refuse to take the male contraceptive pill yet continue to expect women to do so when their health is at a much greater risk.
Worries amongst males are over the hormonal effects of the pills. However, the creators claim this pill is hormone-free and would have no effects upon the male. Another worry is whether men would be as likely as women to remember to take a pill every day. This, however, appears to be a misconception that women are somehow better at remembering things than men. In an ideal world everyone would use condoms 100% of the time. Or, failing that, remember to take their contraceptive pill every morning just as they would remember to brush their teeth or put on their socks.
The male contraceptive pill will be undergoing testing for several more years before it is available to the mass market. Hopefully, when it becomes available, it will be used as an extra form of contraception alongside those already available, allowing men to take total responsibility for their own contraception.

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