The Male Birth Control Pill

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While the female birth control pill has been around for more than half a century, there is still no equivalent contraceptive method for men. No one factor is to blame for its absence, but rather a host of reasons, such as: the belief that birth control is a woman’s responsibility; the perception that women would not trust men to use contraception; the concern for side effects; and the scientific and commercial complexities of developing an effective contraceptive for men. However, despite these barriers, recent social and scientific advancements have made the possibility of the male birth control pill closer than ever to its fruition..

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Ever since the first birth control pill was approved by the FDA in 1960 (Thompson 2013), the responsibility of preventing pregnancy has largely fallen to women. This is likely due in part to the fact that women are more immediately affected by pregnancy and have to contend with its discomforts and risks. Still, men are equally responsible for their children once born, and they are increasingly involved in childcare as well. 15 percent of single parents are men, and 154,000 men in the U.S. are stay-at-home dads (Campo-Englestein 2012), so assuming more responsibility for contraception would turn to a man’s advantage. According to one study, more than 70 percent of men agree that they should play more of a part in the use of birth control (Glasier, et al. 2000). Unfortunately, at this point in time there are limited birth control methods for men, which include condoms, abstinence, vasectomy, withdrawal, and outercourse (Kaltveit 2011). Since women have many more choices in contraception, they are naturally the ones who have to decide which method to use, obtain it, use it, and then deal with the side effects. Perhaps if the male birth control pill was available, the additional contraceptive options would motivate men to alleviate some of the burden typically borne by women.

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