Is A Male Birth Control Pill On The Horizon?

The birth control pill celebrated its 50th birthday in 2010, a contraceptive that completely changed and revolutionised the world of female orientated contraception. By 1978, birth control was freely prescribed to both married and single women, and since then women have gained waves of independence in being able to have sex free of the worry of unwanted pregnancy.  Today, the pill is the most popular form of birth control for women under 30 and with good reason. The birth control family certainly has seen many additions over the years, from IUDs to patches and implants, but the majority of these are female-focused. But that looks set to change in the coming years. The male birth control pill has still not graced the contraceptive market, but it seems that pharmaceutical companies are looking into a form of long-term, reversible contraception that’s designed for men. So far, they’ve all fallen short. Men aren’t at a loss when it comes to contraception, with five non-medical options to choose from. These include abstinence, condoms, outercourse, vasectomy and the withdrawal method. But some men complain that none of these options allow them to fully enjoy sex, with condoms affecting the sensation in the penis and vasectomies requiring additional surgery if they want to reverse the procedure.

It wouldn’t eliminate the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, much as the female birth control pill doesn’t, but the male birth control pill could be an attractive contraception alternative for a number of reasons. To begin with, it would enable men and women to share the responsibility of contraception a little more fairly. It would also help alleviate the fear of the long term impact on fertility for women. As female birth control also affects the female libido, a male birth control option could be a more stimulating form of contraception for both partners. But how does this medication work in stopping 120 million sperm from being released during the ejaculation process? The female pill works with hormones to stop the ovaries from producing an egg each month, stopping the risk of fertilisation. But pharmaceutical companies have largely given up on this process for men, as testosterone differs from oestrogen or progesterone. The resulting birth control method would require men to combine testosterone implants with the pill, and most men wouldn’t go to such lengths for contraception.


One of the first non-hormonal methods to have a breakthrough is the way of disabling sperm instead of shutting down the production. When sperm are formed in the testes they are immobile, but when they pass through the epididymis they are then able to swim. Researchers believe that blocking the Cs protein, which ‘turns on’ the tails, could immobilise the sperm entirely. There is still much work to be done in forming a pill that men can use. There are risks attached, such as whether men will take the pill and whether women will trust men to take it, but at this stage in the decade-long pursuit for a reversible form of contraception, more research is vital. Recent research suggests that interest in the pill even hitting the market has dwindled considerably. Although people see contraception as a joint responsibility, it seems that not as many men are excited by the concept of the male birth control pill. Only time will tell whether researchers are able to formulate a contraceptive that appeals to both men and women.

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