It’s the dream of medical science: a male contraceptive pill; although there are those who claim that’s a weird dream to have. Whatever the case, the quest for a pill for men has passed another hurdle, with the news that a male birth control pill has passed safety tests.
Dr Christina Wang of nonprofit LABioMed reported that a study of 40 men had indicated the safety of the drug, with researchers saying “no serious adverse events or significant clinical concerns” emerged from the study – although some subjects reported minor side effects such as headaches and slightly lower libido. Those effects weren’t enough to convince them to stop taking the pill.
Dr Wang warned, though, that we’re still about a decade away from widely available male birth control pills – more and longer studies will have to be carried out to ascertain the drug’s effectiveness in men and sexually active couples. Dr Wang also said that the drug may not take effect on sperm production for three months from starting a course of the pill: this could mean cultural barriers have to be overcome if men are to adopt the pill in large numbers; it might seem a little disappointing to wait three months, compared to the relative immediacy of female birth control.
In addition, fertility specialist Paul Turek, though calling the news “exciting” – some people are excited by that kind of thing – warned that it was unknown just what effect the pill would have on sperm production. The drug lowers the hormones that drive sperm production, but whether it will take sperm down to zero, Dr Turek says, is uncertain. And zero sperm is, of course, the aim of the game.
Still, ten years from now there’s a good chance that men will be able to take responsibility for birth control with a pill, just as women have been doing all this time. Why should they get all the fun, right fellas?