I used to think it was a myth, but indeed a form of male hormonal contraceptive (MHC) is in the making. The MHC, which is estimated to become available in 3 years and FDA approved in 5, will be offered in a variety of different forms, such as a pill, patch, injection or implant, much like female birth control. A two-year study being conducted in California has proved the pill to be effective, with very few side effects (some men report slight nausea and weight gain, side effects similar to female oral contraceptives).
This new form of birth control opens up a variety of different doors in the realm of safe sex, complete with both positives and negatives. On the bright side, men will now have a condom-free option of controlling unwanted pregnancies. And, for couples in committed relationships who have been tested for STDs and don’t feel the need to wear condoms, the man can take responsibility when it comes to preventing pregnancy. Plus, I can’t wait to see some men on those obnoxious birth control pill commercials (they’re much funnier in europe).
However, I feel male birth control will only be productive in committed, monogamous relationships. It will obviously decrease the popularity of condoms (because no one actually enjoys wearing those anyways) and therefor it could increase the likelihood of STDs. I am constantly lecturing female friends about the importance of condoms, because often girls who are on the pill feel a false sense of safety when it comes to casual sex, especially if they get a few drinks in them and their decision making-skills become impaired. Likewise, it shocks me the amount of men who agree to have random condomless sex with a girl who is on the pill, as if STDs don’t even register in either of their heads.
In a study done in England, researchers asked both men and women if they felt that men could be trusted to be in charge of taking a contraceptive. Results were not such a big surprise; the men felt capable, but women doubted they could be trusted to take the pill daily.
I also wonder if the male pill would have similar side effects to the female pill when it comes to picking partners. Studies have shown that women naturally prefer the scent of a man whose genes are dissimilar from her own, which gives the offspring of said woman and man a better chance of survival (stronger immune systems, etc). However, women who are on birth control seem to be chemically confused, and choose men with genes similar to their own. Will the results be the same when men too are on the pill? Natural sexual selection will be thrown even further off course.
Whenever (if ever) MHC comes out on the market, I feel safe-sex campaigns will have to work extra hard to prevent STD-rates from skyrocketing. However, I know I would be excited to get off the pill, not have to use a condom, and keep my belly baby-free. For anyone still out in the casual dating world (or a super-drunk, super-sexed college environment), condoms should always be the number one choice for contraception regardless of who is on what type of pill.