The Problem With A Male Contraceptive Pill

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Apparently we’ve got another version of a male contraceptive pill – one that doesn’t have side effects like diminishing libido and thus making contraception something of a moot point. Yes, this is indeed an advance in human civilisation and will be of benefit to some to many. But it’s not going to be quite the game changer that some seem to think. Just because men aren’t as interested in contraception as women are. For we face the pig and the chicken deciding what to have for breakfast problem here.

A male contraceptive pill has been developed which is effective, safe and does not harm sex drive, scientists have announced.

In what has been described as a “major step forward”, the drug was successfully tested on 83 men for a month for the first time.

So far efforts to create a once-daily pill to mimic the mainstream female contraceptive have stalled because men metabolise and clear out the hormones it delivers too quickly.

Technical problems being solved, super. And this will no doubt be a matter of delight for some in committed relationships.

But then think back to when contraception was really effective for the first time – 1920s for anything which worked well enough to be said to really merit the name. Or 1960s for non-barrier methods. Sure, it was all lauded as something of great value to those women who wanted, for example, to space their children. Or limit family size perhaps. But recall that it was limited to married women in those early years.

Which isn’t, of course, where the great behavioural changes came, not at all. The great rise in sex as a result of efficient contraception came outside those committed relationships – or outside marriage at least, generally not quite the same thing. Tinder, just as one example, would not exist without the changes in non-relationship sexual behaviour that efficient contraception brought about.

The point being that women are intensely interested in contraception or not outside a relationship, men not so much. Inside one, yes, that’s rather what the commitment part means. You know, a joint sharing of life, of children, their upbringing. Outside, not so much.

The pig and the chicken are discussing what to have for breakfast. Ham and eggs comes up as an idea – the chicken is interested in this, the pig has to be committed. The investment in baby production and child rearing is such that a single woman is a great deal more interested in the possibilities of conception through any particular sexual act than the bloke she’s doing it with. Which is why a male pill isn’t going to change that outside the relationship activity all that much.

We could just make the old point of who the hell is going to believe a bloke saying he’s on such a pill? Again, inside a relationship it’ll work. For hook ups not so much. Just as I promise I’ll pull out, I’ll respect you in the morning and sure I’ll call are all so firmly believed in our society. But it’s much more productive to look at who will carry the costs of non-pill taking. That’s the person who’s going to be really interested in pill taking or not – and they way human biology works that’s going to be the woman, not the man.

Hey, sure, a male pill that works, great. But it’s not going to change society like the female one did.

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jgh
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jgh

There’s also the technical problem. The female contraceptive has to stop a single cell about five-six days of the month. The male contraceptive has to stop 1,000,000,000 cells 30.5 days a month. The male contraceptive has to be 6 beeeellion times more effective than the female contraceptive even to just break even.

bloke in spain
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bloke in spain

Yes about the skin-in-the-game aspect. Except it’s not quite that simple. At the moment, it’s the woman has the control (you can imagine how well a “Yes, I know you’re on the pill but I’ll still put this on, OK?” would go down). And women can have very different agendas from men. Sometimes men have their own skin in the game.

nick
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nick

The other problem with this is

“Despite having low levels of circulating testosterone, very few subjects reported symptoms consistent with testosterone deficiency or excess,”

if this takes off I’m going to invest heavily in gender reassignment technology

So Much For Subtlety
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So Much For Subtlety

But it’s much more productive to look at who will carry the costs of non-pill taking.

I am not convinced that is true. Thanks to the State and its boot boys. Ask Boris Becker if he is interested. Allegedly the NBA tells its players not only to wear a condom but to take it with them afterwards.

I think there is a huge demand for this sort of pill out there. Mostly retrospective of course.

Hallowed Be
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Hallowed Be

I think the game changing part of the pill was rather the failure rate rather than the success rate. 95 to 98 still left an awful lot of babies that the mother was not counting on at that moment/with that guy. So best use of male contraceptive could be as a form of double bagging.

Steve
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Steve

I think the main problem is that our birthrates are already at suicidal levels, to be fair.

Bludnok
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Bludnok

I think I prefer the Roy Hudd offering.

Brilliantly invented, it is the ‘morning after’ pill for men.
It changes your blood group.