Friday, December 01, 2006

The "Pill" for Men: They Won't Take It

You've probably heard/seen/read the news reports about a potential contraceptive pill for men to take. This pill is still theoretical -- there have been no human trials, and I get the feeling that the developers are fishing for funding with this news report. The proposed pill will need to be taken within a certain time frame (I believe 2-5 hours) before sexual intercourse, and it will work by preventing ejaculation while still allowing orgasm. It will have no hormones in it.

Men have weighed in on this, as also can be read on various news pages, and the consensus seems to be "I won't take it." I read an interesting article here: that quoted some urologists as well as your average man.

Some things I found interesting:
"'This Pill sounds way too scary,' says Matt, a 25-year-old entertainment executive. 'I can't imagine anyone I know taking it. I know I wouldn't.'"

"'I don't think a lot of men are going to take this,' Dr. Harry Fisch, a urologist at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia in Washington Heights, says bluntly. 'I wouldn't do anything with it. Nice try.'"

"'How would it not affect your sperm count in the next three or four days?' frets Matt. 'If you took it for a week or month, how would it keep you from being sterile for a year?'"

The concerns are likely more than valid -- when you mess with the normal workings of the body, there are going to be unexpected consequences. I just find it interesting that men, and their doctors, are not willing to take the risk of the potential side effects, while women are. Doubtless the inequality derives at least somewhat from the fact that it is the woman who gets pregnant, gives birth, and is generally left with the child if dad doesn't want to be involved.

The "combined" (estrogen and progestin) oral contraceptive pill, for instance, has been classified by the World Heath Organization as carcinogenic to humans. WHO still insists that generall the benefits of the pill outbalance the risks, for most women. Besides increasing the risks of certain cancers, the pill has been shown to "raise the risk of strokes, heart attacks and potentially-fatal blood clots." (Note, my WSwhateverwhatever editor isn't working, so I'll list a whole bunch of links at the end of this post).

I find it ironic that the guy Matt, above, is concerned about a year's worth of sterility, when Depo-Provera, for instance, can reduce your chances of pregnancy and cause trouble with conceiving for 12-18 months after the last injection. The contraceptive pill has been shown to reduce the chances of conceiving for some months after stopping its use. These aren't really unexpected side effects -- the body cannot heal immediately, but they're not often mentioned as something to be aware of. These side effects all seem to be acceptable risks for women, but not for men.

The whole thing makes me think of this (phony) Breakthrough in Male Contraception that I first read about in Taking Charge of Your Fertility:


  1. For men the real issue may well be the no ejaculation thing. Men are not going to be cool with anything that is making them deviate from normal in the realm of sex. They would probably be ok with risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clots and even infertility if they didn't feel like this was something that might interfere with their little friend's normal functioning.

  2. Bob the Baker12/02/2006 5:40 PM

    Personally, I think most men will probably have a reaction somewhat like: "Well, we've already got the pill for women. What do we need this for?" (Not taking into account, of course, the heath risks that women assume when they use the pill.)
    Anyhow, it all boils down to selfishness. A man who encourages his girlfriend/fiancee/wife to use hormonal contraceptives is basically saying "I love you (but I love myself more), and I'm willing to place your life at risk so that I can take physical pleasure from your body, and won't have to deal with responsibility."
    Yeah, some people may have guessed that I despise the person that I was about ten years ago.

  3. I wish my lawn was like Bob......


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