Male Birth Control Pills Will Soon Exist, But Men Won’t Take Them, Here’s Why 

Male birth control pills are right around the corner, but it's likely most males will resist taking them because of predominant cultural perceptions.

By Wendy Hernandez | Updated

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For decades, the burden of contraception has largely fallen on women. Women today have a variety of contraceptive options to choose from, including pills, patches, IUDs, and implants. However, the only male birth control options have been condoms or a vasectomy. That is, until recently.

Male birth control is gaining traction, as of late. And while men won’t be “on the pill” any time soon, researchers are making headway in that direction. This week, the BBC reported that “research in mice identified a promising new target—a molecular switch that can stun sperm for two hours, rendering its taker temporarily infertile.” “But though the protein has been hailed as a game-changer, it still has a long way to go before it is approved for use in humans.” But once male birth control pills are available on the market, will men be racing to wash them down with a glass of water? Short answer: probably not. 

There are many reasons for the hesitancy in male acceptance of a contraceptive pill. One of the main reasons men may be apprehensive about using birth control pills is their novelty. Since its invention in 1960, the pill has been exclusively marketed to women. Simply put, the concept of male birth control has not yet been ingrained in their cultural idea of what it means to be sexually responsible. As a result, many men will be cautious about using birth control pills, and some may even perceive it as emasculating.

Another reason males may be hesitant to use birth control pills is legitimate fear of negative side effects. Male birth control pills, like any other drug, may cause adverse outcomes. Some of the reported negative effects include mood fluctuations, acne, and a decrease in libido. While these side effects are not life-threatening, they can be annoying and inconvenient.

Furthermore, there is a general lack of understanding and awareness concerning male birth control pills. Male birth control, unlike female birth control, is not generally discussed. As a result, some men may not even be aware of its potential or its current trajectory toward becoming an option for them.

Even when men finally do have access to male birth control, some may feel that it is not their obligation to use it. This is due, in part, to the fact that women have traditionally been responsible for contraception and, in part, because males are not held to the same standard when it comes to sexual responsibility. While this expectation is gradually decreasing, it remains a substantial barrier to the acceptance of the male birth control pill.

Though birth control pills for men are in the works, it is not a development that men are overly enthusiastic about. Indeed, Healthline conducted an online survey where “31 percent of respondents said they would be willing to take a daily pill to stop sperm production while 69 percent said they wouldn’t.” The reasons vary, from its potential side effects (like acne or depression) to a lack of awareness to feeling like their masculinity is being threatened. Notwithstanding these obstacles, birth control for men has the potential to revolutionize contraception, and greater efforts must be made to raise awareness and social acceptance.