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A new generation of contraception?


A new contraceptive pill developed for men promises to redistribute the responsibility and pressure of family planning.



Image: Wikimedia Commons


You’re in the pub, and the guy you have been talking to all night brings you back to his house. Everything is going well. He is as good-looking as the men you see on TV and has a personality to die for. Things are starting to heat up, when all of a sudden, he says:



“Don’t worry, babe. I'm on the pill.”



Since its introduction in the 1960s, women have been encouraged to take oral contraceptive pills to prevent pregnancy.



The pill comes with a list of warnings printed front and back on an A2-sized sheet of paper. Mood swings, headaches, weight gain, depression, and an increased risk of blood clots, to name just a few.



The idea of males being able to take a contraceptive pill is a popular one, promising to level the playing field when it comes to reproductive health. As far back as the 1950s, scientists have been attempting to develop such a product, but potential solutions that initially showed promising results have been quickly abandoned after they were found to cause unpleasant side effects.



‘99% effective in reducing pregnancies’



A breakthrough came in the spring of 2022 when researchers at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis announced that they had created a male contraceptive pill. A non-hormonal pill was tested on mice; the compound named YCT529 was given daily for four weeks and was found that their sperm count dramatically reduced. Most importantly, the drug was 99% effective in reducing pregnancies.



Within four to six weeks of being taken off the drug, the mice were ready and able to father pups naturally once again.



And unlike many oral contraceptives, the new pill aimed at males appears to have no side effects, thanks to the lack of hormones.



Human trials are planned for later this year, and a version that would be available to the public is already in development.




What do young people think?


Despite the scientific advancements in male contraception, the question remains: would men be willing to take the pill?



We asked young people aged 18–25 what they thought of a male contraceptive pill. Interviewees asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the subject.



Many said they would be interested in trying the tablet, but only if it was fully trialled and tested; there was no risk of fertility problems, and they did not have to take it every day.



Some suggested they would prefer to take it just before sexual intercourse rather than daily. Although one interviewee stated this idea would likely be “thrown out the window after a few beers”.



‘Take away the pressure from us girls’



The female interviewees generally felt positive about the option of a male contraceptive pill, focusing on the idea of taking a break from contraception.



One person stated, “I think it’s a good thing for men to finally be given the option to go on continuous birth control, to take away the pressure from us girls." "To give us a break for once.”



However, when we asked females if they would trust men to take the pill without relying on another form of contraception, multiple interviewees said they would not, implying that there is a lack of trust in males when it comes to taking responsibility for contraception.



Regardless of the social implications, the development of a male contraceptive pill could signal a step in the right direction for gender equality in contraception.


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