Why is there no Birth Control Pill for men?

The answer I’d like to propose can be summed up in two closely linked words pilfered from the question itself:

Men. Control.

Myriad aspects of life can be understood by recognizing a single critical fact, and the layered, sometimes complex, deeply biological effects of that fact. Males, by definition, can’t have babies.

i-55186dba36fd0a270c64991b596fc84c-Elle_McPherson_Pregnant_Painted.jpgAll mammalian males contribute to the reproductive endeavor, but often this contribution consists of a single cell, one per offspring. True, that cell contains a haploid copy of the male’s DNA, the quality of which is critically important to the female. In contrast, nutrients for the fetus (through blood), nutrients for the infant (through lactation), protection from the elements, protection from predators, protection from infanticidal males, and transmission of biologically critical knowledge is provided by the female alone in the majority of mammal species. In these species the reproductive role of males is pre-copulation, and of course the deed itself. Precopulatory activity consists of direct competition with other males for sexual access to one or more females, or showy demonstration before the observing females of the qualities likely to be associated with that single cell, the sperm cell, that contains the male’s genes.

Otherwise, the best a male can do to help the little ones grow and mature is to get out of Dodge and stay out of the way. Males that hang around after sex are a bother. They eat the food and they attract predators. Nobody wants them.

Evolutionary Psychologists often take the circumstance of nearly zero male investment as the starting point for theorizing about human sexual strategies and social organization. “Males are selected to inseminate as many females as possible,” is a stock phrase.

Well, it is a starting point, but only in the way that a nice red rock and some mineral oil is the starting point for an expensive tube of lipstick. The male as gladiator and sperm donor (and little else) might be the most common trope among mammals, but it is also true that a lot of mammalian species exhibit male parental care to varying degrees, and humans are this sort of mammal. More paternal care, longer periods of investment, and the greater reproductive value of each individual offspring means there will be more serious risk to males making bad investment choices. The females are at risk of reproductive failure as well (in fact, ultimately, females are usually at greater risk than males), but they have access to the most direct means of controlling reproduction. We would therefore expect human males to be the most neurotic … in an evolutionary sense … about making babies.

Female mammals are in direct control of reproduction, but male mammals are never in direct control. Males are therefore forced to adhere to either Plan A … get out of Dodge … or Plan B. Control the females.

When I say that female mammals are in control, I mean this in reference to every part of the process. In most mammal species, females choose with whom to have sex to a much greater degree than any male aardvark or high school student would like to admit. Females choose whether or not the egg will be inseminated. Females choose to allow the egg to be implanted. Females choose whether or not a fetus will grow or be aborted. Females choose how much to nurse their offspring. Here, I take liberties with the word “choose.” We could be talking about a physiological response to maternal condition that biases the likelihood of fertilization by an X- vs Y- toting sperm (in elk), or a conversation among friends that supports a decision to go out on a second date with a particular suitor (in humans).

For every way in which females are in control, Plan B males (including humans) should be selected to exert indirect control in some corresponding way. In ‘monogamous’ mammal species, this may be in the form of total exclusion of all other reproductive males from a territory, and constant attendance to the female. In social mammals, a male’s indirect control of the reproductive process may be much more varied to meet the circumstances.

Human males can rape. They can coerce. They can arrange for the marriage between their kin and the kin of an ally. Male judges can order the sterilization of individual females or a whole class of females, and male generals and privates can carry out a little genocide here, a little rape and murder there. Males can pass laws that limit a woman’s access to day-to-day birth control methods, to abortion, and to possession of property (resources). These are the ways that males can determine, at several different levels, the outcome of female reproductive activities.

It’s like taking a cab in San Francisco. The driver is the metaphorical female, the hapless passenger from Boston is the metaphorical male. The cab driver has control of the actual driving … the gas, the brakes, the steering wheel, the gear shift. The passenger can get what he wants only using indirect means. You can scream at the cab driver or you can pay the cab driver off, but you can’t drive the cab.

There are other ways that males can influence reproduction. In some species, males can use the strategy of being nice. Baboons within a given ‘troop’ seem to fluctuate between being tough and being nice, depending on age and rank of the male. The situation is roughly similar in humans, but less complex. Social rules vary wildly across human societies, but individual males simply have to learn as they grow up what the social rules are and either follow them or be very, very good a breaking them. Influential institutions and individuals, historical circumstance, and economics may cause changes in human societies over fairly short periods of time. The degree of male coercion vs. male niceness can shift for a lot of reasons. But a given male usually just has to watch the big boys and do what they do.

The female birth control pill is an excellent way of controlling reproduction, but it has some costs, which are all borne by the female. It allows females to be sexually receptive with less risk for making bad decisions, which is beneficial to the strategy of both the male and female. But it interferes with only the female’s physiology and it has health risks only for the female. The male remains fecund. The male can still philander, but he cannot be a cuckold.

A male birth control pill would be as odd and contrary to the broader biological and social conditions as females raping males or the cab driver going directly to your destination using the shortest possible route. Virtually unthinkable.

But there is hope. I would say, in the absence of any information about the physiological or health related side effects, that a male birth control pill would be a good idea. But it is a good idea in the same way that not owning women as though they were cattle is a good idea. This idea that women should be socially, politically, and economically equivalent to men is a very, very new concept, and is only now being put into place, and in fact is very rare on this planet today.

I’m reminded of two conversations, one I had with a computer engineer 20 years ago, and one I saw between John Stossel and Bella Abzug on a documentary from the late 1980s called “Men and Women: The Sex Difference.”

In the first conversation, the computer engineer and his wife (an archaeologist) had a party to celebrate their recent purchase and successful installation of a printer and a scanner. Those were the old days, before printers and scanners were routinely provided free with your computer. The expensive devices (with the computer) had their own table in their own room, off the dining room. In the dining room were munchies and drinks, and guests would get their victuals and wander in groups of two or three into this special room to see a demonstration conducted by the proud parents.

After I saw the demonstration, a thought occurred to me, which I (as usual) blurted out: “Hey, some day there will be a machine that scans and prints, and it can be a fax machine too, and it will be cheap enough that we’ll all have one.”

Ooops. The host was deeply offended. He went on at length about all of the reasons this could never happen. There were fundamental, unbreakable laws of physics and engineering that would make such a machine impossible. I may as well have suggested a perpetual motion machine to Lord Kelvin himself.

Today, when I hear about the impossibility of designing a male birth control pill, I recall this conversation.

The second conversation, between the smart ass 20-20 reporter John Stossel and feminist New York congresswoman Bella Abzug, went like this:

Stossell (smirking): “So, you are saying if women want to be firefighters but need physical assistance in their jobs, they should actually be given physical assistance of some kind?”

Abzug (dead serious): “Right. If you need to invent an electric axe, invent an electric axe!”


Photograph is of Elle Macpherson.

Comments

  1. #1 Dunc
    February 25, 2009

    While I’m not about to argue that a male BCP is impossible, it doesn’t look nearly as easy as the female version, from a biological point of view. There is already a pre-existing hormonal mechanism to suppress ovulation, which the female BCP simply leverages. As far as I am aware, there is no equivalent ready-made mechanism to suppress sperm production.

  2. #2 Azkyroth
    February 25, 2009

    Intuitively, it seems to me that finding some way to impair the motility of developing sperm while the drug is being taken, without long-term effects, might be the most promising approach.

  3. #3 Stacy
    February 25, 2009

    Find a way to make vasectomies more easily reversible.

    Like maybe an implant. I’m thinking “male IUD”.

  4. #4 Jackal
    February 25, 2009

    Ahem. It’s already in clinical trials: Male birth control pill soon a reality.

  5. #5 Lilian Nattel
    February 25, 2009

    There could be a pill. And it would work in a committed relationship where accidents wouldn’t be a disaster. But otherwise honestly–if you were a woman, would you trust the guy when he said he was on the pill and he remembered to take it? My advice in that situation is: dress for success. If it ain’t covered it won’t go there. Remember pregnancy isn’t the only concern. There are also std’s.

  6. #6 marilove
    February 25, 2009

    No, Lilian, I would not trust a male partner to take a male birth control consistently and correctly. Trust may not be the right word, though. The fact is, males CANNOT GET PREGNANT. I think a male birth control pill is a great idea, and gives them some control over a woman getting pregnant or not … but in the end, the burden is still on the woman, because she is still the one that can get pregnant. A man isn’t as likely to be as diligent, or to wonder, “If I take this St. John’s Wart pill, will it interfere with the effectiveness?” The consequences of a man forgetting to take a pill is that THE WOMAN gets pregnant.

  7. #7 marilove
    February 25, 2009

    “If it ain’t covered it won’t go there.”

    Um, this doesn’t always have to be the case, either. If you’re in a commited relationship and have talked about birth control options, some feel that a woman on birth control is enough. Others want the extra protection of condoms, but nto all do and that’s fine too.

    And remmeber: CONDOMS ARE NOT PERFECT. It’s almost as if, whenever anyone mentions condoms, they assume they are perfect. “Wrap it up! Then you won’t get STDs or get pregnant!!!!” That’s not necessarily true. A condom can be used improperly, just as birth control can. A condom can break. A condom doesn’t really protect against herpes.

  8. #8 Laura
    February 25, 2009

    I’ve read about several male pills in development — one that affects sperm production/motility, and one that actually prevents ejaculation. I wonder if men would take the latter variety… seems like it might weird people out.

    In any case, I would love for such an option to become available. Many women, myself included, suffer from unpleasant side effects caused by the pill, but keep taking it because it’s still the best option they’ve found. If my partner could take the pill instead, without having as many side effects, I’d encourage him to go for it.

  9. #9 marilove
    February 25, 2009

    But would you trust that he would take it regularly, and that it would keep you from getting pregnant? Would you really let someone else have control over YOU getting pregnant?

    I can see this as another measure to use on top of other birth control options (female birth control, the IUD, condoms, etc) but certainly not as the only one. At least for myself, and I suspect many women would agree.

    It’s the woman who gets pregnant. Not the man. If a man forgets to take the pill, or takes it and then gets really sick after, or takes medication or antibiotics that interfere with its effectiveness, he won’t be the one getting pregnant.

  10. #10 Nathan Myers
    February 25, 2009

    Young men pass around horror stories about women who get pregnant to force a marriage, and, if that fails, sue for child support. Many unmarried men would use BC to prevent such an occurrence, just as many now use condoms for the same reason.

  11. #11 Itzac
    February 25, 2009

    I’ve heard of a number of a few different pills that have been abandoned. I think part of the problem is that men aren’t willing to put up with the same side-effects as women. Reduced libido, for example, is something I wouldn’t want to deal with. The standards for a male BCP are going to be much higher.

    I’ve heard of a gel that’s injected into the vas deferens that inactivates sperm as they pass through it. It would last up to 10 years, and could be dissolved with another injection. I don’t know where they are in trials though. It’s possible the product failed utterly.

  12. #12 Ouchimoo
    February 25, 2009

    One big thing is also the idea that for men to get a lot of tail is a manly thing to do. What better way for a man to be even manlier is if they have to chase that tail. Which would be explained on why it’s so taboo for women to have sex and they should only have sex to sacrifice their lives to having children regardless if they want them or not, and men of course gloat at every opportunity chance they got and took. Or women should simply objectify themselves to please men.
    We are still in a society that if you want to insult a man call him a woman or a feminized male. Because feminine is horribly inferior, obviously. We hear on TV and radio everyday selling the pills and mouth strips that men should take to ‘enhance performance’ and suggest that making the same products for women would be ‘potentially hazardous because it uses small amounts of testosterone. Women aren’t supposed to have that! So obviously it would be vice versa to suggest men should take birth control. What are they? Women!?

    If you can’t tell, I have some serious issues with “gender rolls”.

  13. #13 Zeolite
    February 25, 2009

    I think our current lack of a male birth control pill is at least 90% due to sexism. Women’s needs and health have been largely ignored in the historically male-dominated field of medicine.

    The reason there is no male pill is because culturally-speaking we have accepted that birth control (and in general all-things-baby) is a women’s domain so there is no lucrative market for a male BCP. In fact, just the opposite, I can envision all sorts of degrading machismo rhetoric bombarding the first men who start taking BCPs lowering the status of their “manhood.” You can bet your bottom dollar that if there was demand and a big profit to be made an effective male BCP would be quickly found.

    Its an extension of our culture’s gender stereotypes to say that men are less responsible than women and thus not worthy of being trusted with the responsibility of birth control.

    There are plenty of responsible men out there who are in relationships were it would be valuable to at least have the option of male BCPs.

  14. #14 Spaulding
    February 25, 2009

    Funny, Ouchimoo…you know a lot of women who enjoy being called “manly?” Pretty weak arguments.

    Also, regarding the original post:

    The females are at risk of reproductive failure as well (in fact, ultimately, females are usually at greater risk than males)

    Male reproductive variance is actually greater than females’. Are you instead talking about health risks associated with reproduction?

  15. #15 Tercel
    February 25, 2009

    I am fully in favor of women’s rights, but I get so sick of being constantly accused of oppression simply for being male.

    Sure, some men perpetuate female oppression, either intentionally or not, but I don’t. So why am I always being demonized?

    In this example specifically, what could possibly have convinced you that men wouldn’t want a make birth control pill? I would certainly take on if it existed. Of course I would. Why not? I don’t want kids, and nobody enjoys condoms. Why on earth would I not take make birth control pills? And why wouldn’t most other men?

  16. #16 Zeolite
    February 25, 2009

    Tercel,

    Sexism is not any one man’s problem or fault, it’s a way our culture has evolved.

    However, simply by being male you have privileges that women don’t have. The same way I, as a white person, have cultural privileges that non-white people don’t. The first step in creating greater equity is acknowledging our privilege. For examples and a more complete explanation google male or white privilege.

  17. #17 the real me
    February 25, 2009

    Nope. Men don’t have birth control because the AMA benefits directly every time a woman choses single motherhood, as the cost of a birth is at least 5000 in their pockets; lawyers, doctors, and judges benefit every time their is a domestic dispute predicated by a man being cuckolded and or entrapped by a woman’s “choice” to neglect taking her birth control, and has a baby; the religious whackoes benefit because they can have a child for the lawd; and the military gets a new crop of mindless soldiers; the prisons a vnew crop of lower income uneducated criminals to incarcerate–at taxpayers cost.

    In short, the GNP goes up every time women “choose” to give birth, whether a man wants it or not. Nadya Suleman anyone?

    But given the choice, I am certain most men would choose NOT to have a kid, or create one, and given a pill, I am sure they would gladly take it over a pleasure reducing insensitive condom.

  18. #18 Stephanie Z
    February 25, 2009

    Okay, guys. If you’re all so gung ho about not having kids, why aren’t more of you getting snipped?

  19. #19 Spaulding
    February 25, 2009

    Tercel, I think that the issue is that while men have a lot at stake in preventing unwanted pregnancy, women have even more. Therefore there’s stronger incentive for women to be on a pill than men. Pills for women have lots of side effects, and because of the lower incentives, the male pill might not do well unless the side effects were milder. But with sufficiently limited side effects, I think it would do VERY well.

    I don’t buy all the motives and conspiracies being alleged by the post and the comments, as I think that reproductive control of the self is a clear matter of self-interest and self-determination for both genders. Please refer to the first comment by Dunc for a more insightful answer to why the large amounts of money being directed at male long-term contraception have not yet been as successful as the female equivalent.

    Stephanie Z, the major difference between a male contraceptive pill and a vasectomy is the reversibility factor. Not every woman on the pill would wish for permanent sterility either. A pill allows one to make decisions about present fertility while retaining options for future fertility.

  20. #20 Spaulding
    February 25, 2009

    That said, men do have better options for permanent sterilization than women do.

    Women just have better (though not ideal) options for the temporary suppression of fertility.

    This is pretty much explained by obvious and relevant sex differences in fertility cycles, gonad distance from skin surface, and gamete count. I leave it as a task for the reader to determine how these animal traits result from socially constructed power imbalance.

  21. #21 rsm
    February 25, 2009

    From a personal perspective:

    1. Permanent is permanent – not so cool if you decide to change your mind. Also unnecessary surgery is just that, an unnecessary risk (however small) that is not needed.

    2. I’d happily take a pill, but I’m in a committed relationship and my partner has really bad reactions to the pills she used to take (generally very sensitive to hormonal changes). I could probably handle the side effects better, thus the rational choice would be for me to take a pill since we have our quota of two trolls already.

    3. If I wasn’t in a committed relationship a pill doesn’t cut it. I might take one, but if condoms are being used anyway the possible side effects may not be worth the added % protection vs. pregnancy.

    As for the reason for the lack of the male pill, I think it comes down to many factors at least some of which are:

    1. Male desire to control female reproduction
    2. Male squeamishness to alter anything about his genitals.
    3. Biological understanding of the mechanism made progress on the female side easier at an earlier point.
    4. Females are in control of the ‘mechanics’ of childbearing (to stretch that car metaphor a bit further), thus it is easier to have women deal with mechanical prevention.
    5. Who the hell would trust a guy to remember his pill? Seriously, what woman could afford to take the risk of trusting the man to have taken the pills just because he said so? It’s bad for a guy to put his faith in the woman’s word on the matter, but at least her incentives (economic, health, career etc) are stronger, much stronger in all these respects.

  22. #22 Mark Lyndon
    February 25, 2009

    My guess is that men would be worried about affecting their virility and long-term fertility, and also that many women simply wouldn’t trust them. It would be great for men to be able to play safe though. I know way too many men whose girlfriends got pregnant whilst claiming to have been on the Pill. Personally, I never had a problem with condoms, and they also protect against STI’s.

    Someone wrote a whole book about the non-availability of the male pill arguing that gender politics play a large role :
    “The Male Pill: A Biography of a Technology in the Making” (see link)

    I have it already, but didn’t get around to reading it yet. I ordered four books, and I’m half-way through the third. This one looked fairly serious, so it’s last on the list…

  23. #23 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    February 26, 2009

    Okay, guys. If you’re all so gung ho about not having kids, why aren’t more of you getting snipped?

    Did that, I am happy to report. Haven’t lost a paternity suit since.

  24. #24 anomdebus
    February 26, 2009

    Another point is time to cope. Women today have had almost 50 years to get used to the idea of a BCP. If you had done a survey in the late 50′s, I think a substantial portion of women would not be comfortable with that form of birth control. By now, the side effects are generally known and although most will probably experience some minor side effects, relatively few will experience disruptive side effects.

    Once it can be shown that a male BCC (2nd c is for contraption (pill, insert,cream,etc..) does not substantially reduce the quality of life for most men, I am sure it will be used widely (assuming we don’t have a need for lots of babies for some reason).

    I also think there is a factor in trying to corral billions of cells vs one cell within a months time. The latter sure sounds simpler to me.

  25. #25 mjaybee
    February 27, 2009

    Not much science here. Nope, not much at all.

  26. #26 a-egon
    February 27, 2009

    “Male Birth Control Pill Soon a Reality”
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3543478/

  27. #27 marilove
    February 27, 2009

    “I know way too many men whose girlfriends got pregnant whilst claiming to have been on the Pill”

    Yes, because whenever a woman becomes pregnant whilst ‘claiming to have been on the Pill” she is a lying whore. Yep. Pills never fail. Women never accidently forget to take one, or get sick and don’t realize that having diarrhea may expel the pill before it can take effect, or are not told by their doctor that antibiotics can lessen the effect of a pill. And nope, women don’t just sometimes become pregnant, even if their BCP usage is 100% perfect. Nope, they are always lying whores.

  28. #28 marilove
    February 27, 2009

    And if a man is that concerned about his partner not getting pregnant, he can 1) wear a condom, 2) get snipped, or 3) not fuck her.

    It takes two to fuck.

    I’m tired of this responsibility ALWAYS being on the woman. “OH MY GOD! She got PREGNANT! But she SAID she was on the pill! That lying bitch!” Please. What a load of rubbish.

    A male pill would be awesome. As a woman I wouldn’t trust it to be 100%, and as a man, you shouldn’t trust that the woman’s birth control is going to be 100%, BECAUSE SOMETIMES SHIT HAPPENS.

  29. #29 catgirl
    February 27, 2009

    I’m a woman and I take BC pills. I also use a condom every time. Personally, I would not completely trust a man who said he is on a BC pill, unless we were in a committed relationship. I’ll admit that I like the control of taking BC pills myself. For me, there are no bad side effects, and there are plenty of great side effects that are not related to sex (lighter, shorter, more predictable periods, for example).

    Although it’s not common, it’s certainly not unheard of for a woman to lie about being on the pill, and I think it would be even more likely for men to do that. Unfortunately, some women do have bad side effects from the pill, and a male pill would work for those women in a serious relationship. However, the only way for both people to trust that birth control is being used it use a condom, which should be done for other reasons besides pregnancy.

    Another issue to consider is paternity. Obviously, no BC method will ever be 100% effective. So if a man is using it and his gf/wife becomes pregnant, his first thought would probably be infidelity.

  30. #30 Kitty
    February 27, 2009

    I do think it needs to be publicized more that birth control and condoms are not 100% effective. Almost nothing is 100% foolproof. Women get painted as whores everytime the pill doesn’t work and they get pregnant but the truth is that BC also can fail even if you are using it correctly. Seeing the really insensitive comments on the internet about Jamie Lynn Spears after she got pregnant “That whore!” “Doesn’t she know about condoms?” really put things into perspective for me. The blame really DOES come down 100% on the woman even if she is being responsible. Since none of us were there when Jamie Lynn was doing the deed, for all we know she may have used a condom. I know a couple of my girlffriends used them- and still got pregnant. And their boyfriends certainly weren’t there with a helping hand afterwards.

  31. #31 the real squeaming onanist guy
    February 27, 2009

    Nope, the answer is not getting clipped: the answer is to encourage men to explore their own sexual control; self control; and interior intimate lives.

    This way, a fellah might just discover that intimacy and conversation as a precursor to sex weeds out the baby farmers/welfare check/child support seekers from amongst the crop of bonobos; or that tantric control not only decreases the likelihood of accidental pregnancy by increasing male stamina, but gives men control over their genitals ( taking their own genitals away from, for instance, the matriarchs); or that giving oneself permission to masturbate increases prostate control.

    Steph, serious question: why do women so often ( so so so so often) default to rhetorical mechanisms and social proscriptions that clip, cut, or otherwise maim male sexual organs? Vasectomies aside, there are other ways of re-imagining/imaging a society.

    maribel: same question to you, but with a twist: What is so scary to you about encouraging male sexual intimacy? I have a theory( and maybe ALL of biological evolutionary sciences back it up) that women prefer males who are insensitive, potentially violent and aggressiove “fuckers” because that’s what gets most girls off, much less gets the deed (breeding) done.

    But you are right: most women ARE lying whores. I suspect that also has a biological explanation along the lines of securing food for infants and such…the non-lying women don’t do as well in the breeding scheme, but become great “fuckers”–like Anais Nin.

  32. #32 Stephanie Z
    February 27, 2009

    C, a serious answer that is off the cuff and, therefore, I’m sure partly misses the mark. (1) It isn’t only women who do this. Men also speak of their rivals using emasculation language, so it’s generally present in discourse.

    (2) The idea of pain and/or maiming in relation to reproductive physiology is just part of life for women. There are probably both elements of desensitization to the idea and “turn about is fair play” in talking about men in the same way. For example, most women who have had an episiotomy or experienced the tearing that an episiotomy was thought to help with will scoff at the idea that a vasectomy is anything like a big deal. Even bad recurrent menstrual cramps can lead to thoughts like, “A few weeks of soreness and then it’s over? What’s he bitching about?”

    That help at all?

  33. #33 the real squeaming onanist
    February 27, 2009

    Not really Steph, but thanks for trying. But I would have expected a response closer to the mark, considering the mark is amazingly large…

    (“1) It isn’t only women who do this. Men also speak of their rivals using emasculation language”

    I wasn’t asking a question about gender-shared rhetoriacl devices, I was asking about gender-seperate speech. Mens speech is vastly different than womens speech, if not only because it is “heard” differently.

    ( more in a minute…gotta sign off now…)

  34. #34 Silver Fox
    February 27, 2009

    For example, most women who have had an episiotomy or experienced the tearing that an episiotomy was thought to help with will scoff at the idea that a vasectomy is anything like a big deal.

    Yeah, really. And then there’s that part about scraping out your insides just because. No warning. No pain meds. What??

    I don’t think turn about *is* fair play – but in response to others besides Stephanie Z – by far the largest percentage of people I’ve seen pass out in front of a needle or red blood outside of hunting or war have been men. It’s all anecdotal, of course. My former H, now dead, could seriously not face the idea of getting cut, even though he was 100% (99?) committed to not contributing to overpopulation, which I think in the long run is a red herring. He would have very gladly taken a B.C. pill; I would have trusted it under the circumstances – although what men should realize is that if they start being in charge of women’s reproduction, then it will only be men that can screw around. As it is, we all get to! (If at all vaguely desired.)

  35. #35 the real cuntard
    February 28, 2009

    Silver fox: you got it wrong–”although what men should realize is that if they start being in charge of women’s reproduction, then it will only be men that can screw around. ”
    See, according to all of those welfare and child support bilking women’s “rights” advocates, apparently the “patriarchy” is in cuntrol, and so goes the trope that women are limited in their “screwing around” choices–never mind that many women replace the feeling of orgasm with an infant nibbling on their nipples, or that female pedophilia is almost ALWAYS misdiagnosed as ” love for children”, babysitting experimentation, or accidental bad touch in the course of “nuturing”; or that it is these women who devise “playDATES” and other such outings for kindergartners?1?

    Screwing around is for all of us? I dunno…seems to me that women are often dfinitionally overlooked as to what exactly “screwing around” is. Which brings to mind my kindergarten substitute teacher, who walked around me/us laying there on the nap mat when I was a kid during daily naptime, wearing no underwear, and paused, smiled and opened her legs, and said ” you supposed to be napping… you know you have to sleep don’t you?”…

  36. #36 contraceptives
    May 18, 2009

    A friend of mine got married, but only six months after she did, she conceived because her natural birth control method failed.

  37. #37 Traci
    June 5, 2009

    What is happening to our society…we break things that weren’t meant to be broken. Why do we see fertility as a disease? I think the perspective is wrong and all respect and dignity for the human body has been lost. Fertility is a gift- it is a large part of what makes each of us who we are. It is the respect of fertility that has side effects such as increased intimacy. Negating our sexuality is not the answer. We are far more concerned with what we conserve in our planet and not so concerned with what we put in our bodies…I just think that it is interesting the power of fertility in our society and how people act on fear instead of education. Men are fertile always. Women have fertile and infertile times through there cycle. Knowledge is power…we don’t need pills.

  38. #38 Greg Laden
    June 5, 2009

    The author of this blog does not endorse any medical advice, especially as related to birth control, provided by commenters on this blog.

  39. #40 Renee
    October 12, 2009

    People always say this, and miss the obvious answer.

    Physiology.

    Women go through a period in their life when they don’t ovulate. This is called pregnancy, which is associated in changes in hormones. Birth control pills mimic pregnancy, and therefore the lack of ovulation, using the same hormones.

    Men, after puberty, do not ever naturally stop producing sperm. It’s a lot easier to get bodies to do something they do naturally than to get them to do things they do not.

  40. #41 JC
    December 7, 2009

    A male birth control pill is not impossible. Birth control is inherently sexist. To have a male birth control pill, logically, you have to shut down the testes. This causes the male anatomy to shrink. They’ve done initial studies on male birth control in the past, but the test subjects always react badly to the idea of their private parts shrinking. Meanwhile, a woman on the Pill is twice as likely to have a stroke, and has a huge risk of heart attack or breast cancer. Any other drug with those side effects would have been pulled decades ago.

  41. #42 History Punk
    December 7, 2009

    Trace, nice concern trolling.

    “Why do we see fertility as a disease? ”

    Actually, nobody outside the religious right rhetoric spewers engaged in concern trolling such as yourself see it or the standard discourse on the matter as “treating as a disease”. Things like fertility have been seen as a condition of human nature that can be and sometimes should be regulated or managed for greater human control.

    “Fertility is a gift- it is a large part of what makes each of us who we are.”

    As this is the Christmas season, you should recognize that just because something is a “gift” does not it make useful or desirable or even safe. Lots of gifts are regifted, waste away unused in attic storage, or even returned to sender. Birth control is basically doing the same with what you have deemed a gift.

    “It is the respect of fertility that has side effects such as increased intimacy.”

    As the children on Wikipedia say [[Citation Needed]]

    So for the rest of your post Traci, it’s just religious concern trolling.

  42. #43 History Punk
    December 7, 2009

    Actually, let me correct myself, Traci is a concern subtly hawking for Novuscor, whose website describe them as a software company specializing in couples’ fertility management and reproductive health.

    (http://www.novuscor.com/)

  43. #44 Greg Laden
    December 7, 2009

    History Punc: I had not spotted that. Thanks. Fixed.

  44. #45 Chris
    March 23, 2010

    I find it odd how many women see male birth control as evil. They say they don’t trust their husbands/boyfriends to take a pill every day, but that is what men must worry about every time they have sex. The woman may say she’s on the pill but she may want sex or a baby now, so she lies, and the man gets stuck with a baby he doesn’t want. Currently, the only protection a man has is a condom but that impairs his pleasure from the sex.

    If anything, it would help free women from unwanted pregnancy. Men could now be held accountable for reproduction. If a man and woman in a monogamous relationship are both on birth control, they stand almost no chance of having a baby or getting STDs. With the male pill, even if the woman forgets, condomless sex won’t make a baby; if the man forgets, no baby.

    Seems like a sweet deal and if it was sold as a way to fuck without condoms but not worry about pregnancy, I’m sure a lot of men would love this pill. I certainly would. Still, I’d wear a condom with a stranger just so I don’t get AIDS.

  45. #46 Chris
    March 23, 2010

    I find it odd how many women see male birth control as evil. They say they don’t trust their husbands/boyfriends to take a pill every day, but that is what men must worry about every time they have sex. The woman may say she’s on the pill but she may want sex or a baby now, so she lies, and the man gets stuck with a baby he doesn’t want. Currently, the only protection a man has is a condom but that impairs his pleasure from the sex.

    If anything, it would help free women from unwanted pregnancy. Men could now be held accountable for reproduction. If a man and woman in a monogamous relationship are both on birth control, they stand almost no chance of having a baby or getting STDs. With the male pill, even if the woman forgets, condomless sex won’t make a baby; if the man forgets, no baby.

    Seems like a sweet deal and if it was sold as a way to fuck without condoms but not worry about pregnancy, I’m sure a lot of men would love this pill. I certainly would. Still, I’d wear a condom with a stranger just so I don’t get AIDS.

  46. #47 Meia
    July 28, 2010

    The rhythm method (not having sex during times of ovulation) can only be properly practiced if a woman is aware of her exact time of ovulation (this can be any day she is not on her period, and rarely even during her period.) They do sell ovulation detection strips. But this method only seems practical under a monogamous relationship where pregnancy would not be a terrible thing.

    I think more accountability for both genders is in order here. Honestly, sex is for making babies. This is the reason it exists. Every time you do it, you may get pregnant. So, don’t do it unless your willing for that to be a possible outcome.

  47. #48 Greg Laden
    July 28, 2010

    To get monogamy (more or less) in a very very non-monogamous ape, you need to do certain extreme things. One of them seems to have been to evolve a second purpose for sex that is not strictly having babies. This is probably why human females are “receptive” (in the technical sense) when they are not ovulating. That is quite rare in mammals.

  48. #49 DuWayne
    July 28, 2010

    Honestly, sex is for making babies.

    Umm, no, no it’s not – not for humans anyways. I mean yes, it can be used for that too, but that is not the primary reason that humans have sex.

    Humans have sex because it is pleasurable and because it can, in the right context, foster a certain kind of intimacy. The vast majority of sex humans have, is for purely psychological and emotional reasons. Though that may well be supplanted by sex motivated by pleasure, rather than to support a monogamous relationship.

    After all, as Greg mentions, apes aren’t necessarily naturally big on monogamy.

  49. #50 Meia
    July 30, 2010

    Yes it is useful for those things. Regardless of what we WANT sex to be. It is a tool for creating offspring. A man is driven to send out sperm to fertilize an egg. I am sorry people don’t want to accept accountability in that manner; sex has consequences because you are fighting nature when you are not using it to have a child.

    Of course we want sex, even when not ovulating. It feels amazing and the intimacy is assuring. But that doesn’t mean that the organ is there for that purpose. A mouth is designed for eating food. Sometimes we use it for moving someone else’s tongue around in, but regardless its primary purpose if for mastication.

  50. #51 Scott
    August 24, 2010

    There’s a few great reasons why there’s been no concentration on male birth control pills. Men would remember to take them. Women wouldn’t get pregnant. Abortion clinics would suffer because of it. Also, lawyers would take a hit also because a female wouldn’t have to contact a lawyer about child support. It’s no more complicated than that, folks.

  51. #52 Silly_cooze, from Tyler Texas
    January 21, 2011

    If you are like me and came here looking for scientific information about male birth control and found nothing but feminist rhetoric:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3543478/ns/health-sexual_health/

    This will answer your question. This article will not.

    To the man haters who posted above:

    GOOD MEN do need birth control, because women will trap us with children…

    It happened to me, condom sabotage. It was all too easy for her to FUCK UP MY LIFE and now I have a son who has never looked into his fathers eyes.

    Women can be sh!tty too. (Seems like the lowest life forms on this earth are uneducated white women, and typical black men.)

    Sex has many purposes, not just reproduction. DO SOME READING (Not just the Bible.)

  52. #53 anonemouse
    March 30, 2011

    The vasectomy is the way to go, guys. Don’t trust your gal when she says she’s on the pill. Even if she’s “on” the pill, she could have innocently forgotten to take the pill.

  53. #54 John Q. Stillwater
    April 28, 2011

    As a scientist in training (an evolutionary biologist no less) I can say this article is to science as fad diets are to eating healthy and exercising. Interesting to the layperson but lacking in any real substance beyond what is found after hitting up the top 2 results from a Google search.

    Most people still don’t understand how difficult it is to study human behavior, much less behavior as complex as sexuality and self-identity. Out of every piece of molecular machinery in the universe we have invented or know about, nothing comes close to being as complex as the human brain.

    Simply due to the fact that each half the population is biologically incapable of putting themselves completely into the other half’s shoes would make the task difficult enough. Many people don’t even fully understand the daily decisions they make themselves. Throw in thousands of years of cultural and linguistic evolution, various world religions, economic divisions, geographic divisions, and up to this point an exponential growth of technology of all forms, and you have something that cannot be summarily described as “Men. Control.”

    So what does that mean for the other comments? Some of them are insightful but for most I’d say people need to yank themselves out of the paradigm they currently think they are not in. The grass is always greener on the other side.

    Also 90% of statistics used to argue in internet comment wars are bullshit.

  54. #55 Stephanie Z
    April 28, 2011

    John, before commenting, you might want to read beyond the third paragraph. Nothing you’ve said contradicts the substance of the post.

  55. #56 Greg Laden
    April 29, 2011

    John just looked at the pictures.

  56. #57 Azkyroth
    April 29, 2011

    Simply due to the fact that each half the population is biologically incapable of putting themselves completely into the other half’s shoes would make the task difficult enough.

    Oopsie. Guess I’d better stop doing that.

  57. #58 Mixy
    NY
    January 27, 2013

    From me reading this post Almost everyone here are a little sexist….y???
    First of all for thd comments about women and BC. All women dont lie and All women arent on birth control. Personally If im not on BC Im going to let you know ahead of time. Also heres another question why are you men only depending on the women and BC to keep from pregnancy maybe if you go to the doctor with these women you would know that BC is not 100%. NOTHING IS 100% NOT CONDOMS, SPERMICIDES, OR ANY BC!!!!

    I do understand and feel bad for the men that take responsibilty especially with their children, I feel like the government is sexist and chooses the side of the female at all times.

    I think a male BC would be great