I saw an article today about the impending human clinical trials of a “male contraceptive pill” (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210303161645.htm). Apparently trials of the compound triptonide in mice have been successful and show that it interferes with assembly of sperm rendering them unable to swim.
Triptonide is non-hormonal (use of hormones being one of the big causes of side effects of the pill for women), has no apparent side effects, and is reversible.
It takes up to six weeks to become effective and about the same time for fertility to return when treatment stops.
That’s all great. Having more contraceptive choices and solutions is a good thing.
But we have finally reached the moment that has been long discussed – can men be trusted to use a form of contraceptive that requires regular effort when they don’t directly carry the cost of not doing so?
I had a vasectomy when I decided that I didn’t want to have children. It was a simple procedure and because it is 100% effective, women can trust it as a form of contraception. I have always been sceptical though of a “male pill” and I expect that many women would be too.
So it begs the question of what exactly is a male contraceptive pill good for?
It may be glib to say this, but it does put an end to the “men’s rights activists” (MRAs) wailing about how women trap men by deliberately getting pregnant. Well boys, now you don’t have to worry about being “tricked”, just pop this pill every day and your “freedom” is ensured. Somehow I doubt that’s going to stop their howling.
Anyway, the fact that this was the first thing that came to mind for me is, I think, telling. So where else might it be useful? The obvious application is in relationships where a woman experiences side effects from female contraceptives – which is quite common.
But that brings us back to trust again.
If the relationship is committed and long term then perhaps this might be acceptable for the woman. But to my mind, putting your fertility in the hands of another person when they don’t have to live with the consequences – even in a committed relationship – is a very big ask. I’m sure that many people could and would do it, but would a large percentage of the population? I have my doubts.
Which means that unlike other contraceptives, the market for this product may end up being very, very small (and I don’t expect that MRAs would actually use it, since contraception isn’t the point, they just enjoy being whiney and having something to blame women for).
However, I’m always in favour of knowledge for the sake of knowledge and who knows how this technology may one day be put to use and who it might benefit.
I’m interested to know what women think about this idea though, so please feel free to drop a comment below.