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Male Birth Control

Male contraceptive has been in the making for many years now. The demand for a birth control option that originates from the male side of an intimate relationship is equally shared by both men and women. Both men and women are in agreeance that the responsibility of birth control within a sexual relationship weighs heavily on the woman and should be shared equally between the two partners. The discussion between a hormonal contraceptive versus a non-hormonal contraceptive contributes to the trials that are in place to test which has the highest success rate, and ultimately will determine which option would best fit society.

Types of Female Birth Control

Contraceptive comes in many different forms. The most common method of birth control is oral contraceptive, or the birth control pill. Although it is the most common, it is often not used optimally as human error of not taking the pill every day at the same time consistently is common.

IUD (Intrauterine Devices)

Intrauterine devices (IUD) are growing in popularity due to their extended life, and increased effectiveness. Human error of forgetting to take the contraceptive every day at the same time is eliminated with an IUD. These devices are inserted in the uterus and initiate an inflammatory reaction to the tissues within the uterus. This causes an inhabitable environment for embryos to mature in, resulting in infertility. [1]

Depo Shot (Depo Provera)

Other forms of birth control include a tri-monthly injection, called the Depo Provera shot. Often referred to as the Depo Shot, it consists of 150mg deep intramuscular injection of medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) every 12 weeks. It is comparable to an IUD in effectiveness, and only requires the scheduled appointments to administer the dosage and increase effectiveness. [2]

Alternatives to the contraceptive methods outlined above include the vaginal ring, the birth control patch, a diaphragm, the birth control sponge, a cervical cap, and spermicide. The common thread with each of these methods is that they are only used by females.

Current Male Birth Control Methods

The methods of birth control that are used and controlled by males consist of condoms, and vasectomies.


The most effective of the two methods is the vasectomy. When properly executed, a vasectomy has a failure rate of less that 1%. Although they have such a high effectiveness, vasectomies are not easily reversible, especially after having reached 8 years post-operation.


Condoms are the most commonly used form of contraceptive. When used perfectly, condoms provide a 99% effectiveness in preventing pregnancy. Condoms have been used for over 300 years, and originally were made of animal intestine. Current versions of condoms are most commonly made of latex. Due to the level of contact involved in condom use, latex condoms have contributed to the development of latex allergies in both men and women. Due to these allergies, the introduction of polyurethane condoms. Although the exposure to latex has been eliminated, studies show that the latex condoms break and slip out of place less frequently than their polyurethane counterpart.

So far, methods of male birth control have yet to be perfected, as many wrinkles have yet to be ironed out. Contraceptive that is designed to be used by males that is as effective as female birth control has not been put into production yet, and still require many trials and tests before a perfected method will be released for public use. [3]

Male Birth Control - Hormonal Methods

There are a handful of ways that scientists are choosing to pursue a male birth control. One of the most researched methods involves introducing hormones to the body to counteract the natural sperm concentration found in average men. By reducing sperm concentration, the likelihood of impregnation is also reduced. This is done by creating a treatment that suppresses spermatogenesis and gonadotrophins.

Studies have shown that the introduction of increased levels of testosterone in the male body has had an effect on sperm concentration and is the beginning step in this specific trial of male contraceptive. With these facts in mind, trials of hormone based male contraception has largely focussed on testosterone combines with norethisterone, desogestrel, etonogestrel or depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate. Interestingly enough, it has been found that men of East Asian background are able to take higher doses of testosterone alone, and have their spermatogenesis suppressed enough to be considered a safe method of contraception. Men of Caucasian background require testosterone to be combined with progestins in order to have a similar enough effect on their sperm concentration.

The ultimate goal is to create a contraceptive method that male partners are able to use that hold the same effectiveness as the existing female methods available today. By using hormones to alter the production levels of sperm in males, researchers are coming very close to achieving the most idea form of male contraceptive. [4]

Some additional trials are focussing on reducing sperm count and function to lower the likelihood of impregnation. This is due to the result mimicking the way female contraception will suppress the secretion of sex hormones. In females, this effect inhibits ovulation, while in men it will work to reduce sperm count and function by suppressing pituitary gonadotrophin secretion. This method has been compared to the vasectomy in regards to how quickly the treatment renders the user infertile, with the exception that sperm count is able to fully return to normal levels when use of the treatment ends. [5]


The need for a form of contraception that is male based is quite high. As the global population inches toward 8 billion, the effects of having such a high body count is taking its toll on the environment. In addition, the responsibility of contraception between partners should be evenly distributed. Sexual double-standards between men and women have been deep rooted in our society for centuries. By administering the responsibility of not only purchasing the contraceptive, but also being responsible for taking the contraceptive independent to the sexual event taking place aids in the severing of the female-based perceived responsibility of protecting from unwanted pregnancies. Men and women are very much in agreeance that the responsibility of birth control relies too heavily on the female partner and would welcome the option of having a male centred contraception, sharing the duties of practicing safer sexual interactions.

  1. Oritz, Croxatto, Bardin (1996). "Mechanisms of Action of Intrauterine Devices".CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. Bigrigg, Evans, Gblolade, Newton, Pollard, Szarewski, Thomas and Walling (1999). "Depo Provera: Position Paper on Clinical Use, Effectiveness and Side Effects".CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. Page, Amory, and Bremner (2008). "Advances in Male Contraception".CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. Nieschlag, E. (2010). "Clinical Trials in Male Hormonal Contraception".
  5. Liu, P., and McLachlan, R. (2008). "Male Hormonal Contraception: So Near and Yet So Far".CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)