Plan D…as in D*ck. Coming soon?

male-birth-controlBy Regina Simone

The Daily Mail recently reported on a study by Dr. Sabatino Ventura and his team from Monash University in Australia, who published findings on a new technique of male contraception, which could be in development soon. “The technique [of the male pill] works by blocking two proteins involved in the ejaculation process” thereby causing the man to shoot blanks, like a “chemical vasectomy” –  he would still ejaculate, but there would be no sperm.

We’ve been here before. This is definitely not the first time research has been done on the search for the male birth control pill. Research has been ongoing for years. Upon Googling ‘male birth control,’ there were articles based on the recent aforementioned study, as well as an article dated May 2012, and one from October 2003.

So where were we in all of this a decade ago? The 2003 NBC News article reported that the research for male contraception (pills, injections, and implants) involved hormones, such as ‘”testosterone and progestins, [which] are used to shut off sperm production,’”the same way women’s birth control “[blocks] the release of eggs to prevent pregnancy.”

Similarly, another article on askmen.com reported such a product involving hormone therapy developed in the Netherlands was “set to go on market by 2005.”

If the pill for women has been been around since the ‘60s, and a pill for men would essentially use the same technology to prevent unwanted pregnancy, then why wasn’t it developed and marketed decades ago?

One of the concerns surrounding male contraception is the potential side effects from hormone therapy; it seems the difference between the studies done ten years ago and the most recent study performed by Dr. Ventura boils down to the hormones.

Dr. Ventura stated, “Most of the previous strategies to make a male contraceptive have either been hormonal strategies, which would produce a lot of sexual side-effects or effects on masculinity, or they would make sperm dysfunctional, which might produce long-term effects on offspring. Our strategy avoids all those problems.”

Meanwhile, hormones have been the lifeblood of women’s contraception (side effects included), for years, with as recent as last week’s reports that NuvaRing’s side effects include blood clots and has possibly been linked to as many as a thousand deaths. What about a strategy for those problems? Women are dealing with possibly dying, and men are worried about ‘effects on masculinity’?

Long-term effects on offspring is valid, but losing their masculinity (I imagine a short-term effect) a concern? Kind of not a fair balance on the scales here, amirite? Especially since the male pill, like the female pill–is a pill whose purpose will reverse upon not taking it (ie: egg release and sperm production). These aren’t going to be the same hormones as someone transitioning to the opposite sex takes. Women on the pill are still very much women, even without releasing an egg or the desire to not have a baby.

The question that remains: Will women trust men to take a pill daily? As in, be responsible enough to take a pill everyday? Imagine, being in bed (or wherever), the tables turned, women asking men the question: “Are you on the pill?” Because at the end of the day, the woman is still going to be the one responsible for the actual pregnancy.

Image via flickr: UC Irvine

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Regina Simone is a freelance writer, blogger in New York City via Texas. She has written for Bust Magazine, 002Houston Magazine, and various sites. She loves anything to do with and loves to do anything with Women’s interest, yoga, fashion, food and travel. google+twitter

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