So that’s why there’s no male birth-control pill

After years of news reports that male birth control is on the way, now there’s some support for what feminists have always suspected. It’s not science that’s holding up the creation of a Pill for men– it’s society.
The original developer of male birth-control pill says they stopped work on it because men wouldn’t use it.

“It would be possible to make a male pill today. We know how hormones work and we could use the same principles that are used to make the female pill,” Carl Djerassi, 82, told weekly news magazine “Sabado”.
“The problem is that men are afraid to lose their virility. Even if taking a pill carries only a remote chance of impotence, they won’t take the chance,” he added.

In other contraception news, here’s a compelling reason not to eat at Domino’s Pizza.

Join the Conversation

  • Pax_Secularum

    I have the misfortune of living in the town and county that Ave Maria is supposed to go up in. This is not something we are looking forward to. I already know that contractors and employees are being chosen more for religious and political loyalties than for actual ability.
    NANA (no atheists need apply)
    Funny how American Catholics of all people should fall into that mindset.

  • puckalish

    that’s so dumb…
    as a man who loves making love and isn’t ready, willing or able to feed, teach and raise a kid how kid’s deserve to be fed, taught and raised, i think it’s a little bit of a ridiculous argument.
    i mean, shoot… folks really think that a vasectomy has less of a chance of causing impotence than a damn hormone pill?!
    that’s fucking stupid. i could do with being hit off with some male birth control pills… shit.
    sorry i haven’t written in minute on some more substantial ish, but this is easy. and stupid. all that the same time. i mean, dang, a quick google brings up that there’s roughly a half a million vasectomies in the u.s. alone every year. you’d think that, given those numbers, there’d be some kind of interest in tapping the market with a cheap to produce hormone pill.
    and about domino’s – that’s not really news… that sucka’s been rolling dough into anti-choice efforts from day zero. not to mention that the pizza sucks.

  • Pinkpoodle

    I’ve been interested in the development of a male birth control pill for quite awhile — especially after I decided to take a break from the pill and realized that almost every safe option involved me shouldering all the side effects, while my boyfriend had no options but a condom (we’re in our early 20’s, so a vasectomy isn’t workable). I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that they’re not even attempting to find a market for a male pill. I know that such a market would exist, as there are actually groups advocating for a reversible and reliable method for men:
    In addition, I have a feeling that many women currently on the pill and not enjoying the side effects, would simply tell men it’s their turn to shoulder the responsibility of taking a pill everyday.
    And why wouldn’t men take a little risk? As it is, younger men who don’t want a vasectomy can only use condoms or trust their partner to reliably use birth control. The risk of paying child support for 18 years might prompt men into taking a chance with a method they have some control over. If a man rides a bike, he’s at risk for lower fertility, so why is a male pill seen as so impossible to sell?

  • jane

    The FDA would never approve the dangers of hormone usage with men, solely to keep women from getting pregnant. Never, ever.

  • yellownumber5

    Drug companies live on big-ticket drugs like viagra or lipitor. They really don’t bother to put a lot of development money into something that will be moderately profitable.

  • gordon k

    I would love to have a male pilll as an option, if only so I didn’t have to feel like I’m getting all the benefit and none of the consequences when a relationship moves beyond the condom stage.
    That plus all the reasons the pill is nice (not having to rely on my partner for contraceptive, etc). Right now, the only non-permanent option a guy has that he can be responsible is a condom.
    This isn’t the fault of men wanting to foist the burden off on their partners. This is the fault of America’s overly conservative government, which has done little to promote safe sexuality for women or men.
    But, uh … having seen a pair of those suspensory briefs, I think I’ll take a pass on that one. Ow.

  • chuym

    OK. As a guy: I WANT THE MALE PILL!!! GIMME!!!
    As long as it does not effect my sex drive like it does my partner, I am all for it. Possibly the main reason I want to do this is that she is highly effected by hormones and the pill is awful to her (she insists on taking it still). I know the science of the past 3 ideas for the pill and it is great. 40 some odd days of slowly reducing verrility and then it takes about the same to have fully functional sperm after cessation of the pill.
    It is not the active male population that is the main problem, it is the funders: old, white guys who are all for viagra.

  • Jessica

    random fyi: that dude doesn’t own domino’s anymore…he just founded it. and i swear i’m not mentioning this because i have a chicken kicker obsession.

  • yellownumber5

    PETA gets upset at KFC for its treatment of animals while Dominos has a policy of kicking chickens? I mean, really, that’s just cruel.

  • Woman

    There is no way I could ever trust another person with birth control. Fair play to the men who actually want the option and to take responsibility, but at the end of the day it’s the woman who has to deal with the consequences. The woman who has to give birth. The woman and the child who get abandoned while the man walks away. The woman who spends the rest of her life raising that child while the man continues on as if it never happened. The woman who has to fight for child maintenance.
    Trust another person with my life like that? Never.
    Bitter much? :D

  • gordon k

    There is no way I could ever trust another person with birth control. Fair play to the men who actually want the option and to take responsibility, but at the end of the day it’s the woman who has to deal with the consequences.
    And this is exactly why I want a male pill (or shot, or patch, or RISUG, etc). Not because I want to usurp this “power” from women; but because I don’t want to held responsible based on someone else’s ability to be absolutely perfect about taking a pill every single day. And because I don’t want to become a victim of one of those few women who will sabotage their and their partner’s method of birth control.
    At the end of the day, yes, it’s the woman who gives birth and raises the child. But the man bears a legal responsibility (at least, in theory), and he certainly bears a moral responsibility. Why not give him the control over his fertility that would go with that?
    No one is saying *you* have to go off the pill just because your partner chooses to go on it. Some partners may choose to alternate (“fair’s fair – it’s your turn this year”). Some may choose to use both methods of contraception simultaneously. Some may decide that having the woman or the man on the pill – one or the other – is most appropriate for them.
    This doesn’t take away from a woman’s control over her fertility and her body – but it does increase her options. That can’t be a bad thing. And with all the complaining (not without cause) I hear about how contraceptive is a woman’s responsibility, and the side effects are always the woman’s, etc., etc., I think adding at least one or two options to the man’s end is exactly the kind of thing feminists should support.

  • Not true

    Could someone please edify me … I’m not in the US and don’t eat “fast food” … what’s a “chicken kicker”. Is that literal and what the hell for? Some kind of weird perversion or is it a way of controlling one’s serial-killer tendencies.

  • puckalish

    first off, jess, you’re a nutter…
    next, not true, i think in this (gastronomical) case, the proper term would be “cereal-killer tendencies”

  • noname

    I don’t know what they thinking. Assuming the side effects were acceptable, I would take a birth control pill in a second. I, like many above, am just not comfortable leaving my future in the hands of someone else.

  • Chet

    I’d like to see a little more feminist support for better male contraception. Intrinsic in the idea of personal freedom is reproductive choice. Why do men deserve reproductive choice any less than women do?
    There is no way I could ever trust another person with birth control.
    Welcome to the lives of men, who often are faced with only three choices – permanent sterility, uncomfortable sex forever, or trust their partner with the birth control. You don’t want to live that way. Why should we have to? I don’t see anything intrinisic in the idea of male contraception that says women can’t keep using the pill, too. My wife is on the pill but another layer of protection wouldn’t hurt.
    I’m not trying to make this into a “poor men” thing. But it is a function of equality. If more transparent birth control is such a great thing for women, men don’t deserve it any less. And its a little ridiculous that with all this patriarchal power men supposedly have, we can’t seem to get this done. A majority of men would use the Man Pill if it were avaliable to them.

  • yellownumber5

    Chet, if a majority of men would use it, they would make it. The point here is that it wouldn’t sell well enough to bother making it. And this is where we get to the patriarchy thing: women are easier to control when you’re impregnating them all the time. Obviously, it’s not like there’s some conscious male-wide conspiracy to keep women pregnant and docile, but there are a lot of belief systems where that’s the de facto result – they have the misogyny built into the system so the believers don’t even have to dream it up.
    And, as for “uncomfortable sex” – every time I’ve used a condom, my sex partner has seemed pretty “comfortable.” There are side-effects to current oral contraceptives, and the options presented to women definitely aren’t ideal. I don’t think Woman was trying to say that men need fewer options for birth control, just that male contraceptives wouldn’t be a huge issue for her since she is going to take care of her own contraceptive needs anyway.

  • gordon k

    Yellownumber5, why is it when they won’t sell a male pill, it’s because most men won’t use it, and because it’s part of the Evil Patriarchy Impregnation Conspiracy, but when they won’t sell the female pill or EC, it’s because they’re trying to impose their sexual morals on the rest of us? Several men have posted here that they would use the pill; while I can’t claim we’re representative of the population, I can tell you that we’re far from alone.
    I will disagree with you on the “uncomfortable sex” thing – condoms may not be horrible, but they’re certainly not something you can ignore when you have one on. Regardless, that’s a strawman; the female condom, for example, is also “not uncomfortable”, but there’s plenty of reasons women choose other options.
    As to Woman “saying … that male contraceptives wouldn’t be a huge issue for her since she is going to take care of her own contraceptive needs anyway”, that’s irrelevant. As Chet, noname and I have been saying, *we* may not be comfortable leaving contraceptives to someone else. So the fact that our partners may or may not be taking care of contraceptive is irrelevant. Just because Woman isn’t among the women who will choose (with their partners) to take advantage of these options doesn’t mean she shouldn’t support this; if that was the case, there’d be very few women arguing for, say, abortion, or the rights of rape victims.

  • puckalish

    wow… this is mad intersting…
    a few other points…
    one is that i’m really confused as to how there’s this common knowledge that men wouldn’t buy contraceptive pills. as i stated above, roughly a half million men get vasectomies every year. that strikes me as a pretty decent market to tap – i’d love to see some numbers about the market research that has led to the abandonment of male contraceptive pills.
    on a more cynical tip, pharmaceutical companies have some of the strongest marketing teams in the world – and i don’t think it’d take too much effort to sell the idea of not being a father to young men who like no-strings-attached sex.
    another is that contraceptive pills are not expensive to produce, especially compared with other drugs (like the examples above – viagra and lipitor, which were new technologies when they were marketed). the r&d’s already there for male contraceptive pills, production expenses for hormone pills are negligible… blah blah blah…
    additionally, different women have different reactions to pills – similarly, for instance, a woman may have a severe reaction to taking the pill (or ring or whatever) while her male partner may not – and this would give committed hetero couples a lot more options in that regard. further, no contraceptive is 100% and i can only imagine that a man and a woman both on the pill would have just about no chance of having a kid.
    finally, on the comfort tip, yeah… maybe condoms are “comfortable”, but comfort’s really not what i’m looking for when i’m making love – and a condom just isn’t the same.
    yeah… and it’s too bad this has to be so divisive. i mean, really folks… i don’t see why anyone should be arguing against men having access to pharmaceutical contraception (or arguing that it’s men’s own faults they don’t have access) – especially women who consider themselves feminists.

  • txfeminist

    I think enough men would use it happily to be a marketable item.
    There is an easy way for women to be assured: males on contraception can carry a certificate from their doc. Problem solved.
    And as for the Catholic city? I think it’s a great idea. In fact, they should make it bigger, and put a huge, gigantic wall around it. Then after all the self righteous wingnut fanatics have congregated there to live in godbaggy bliss, we permanently seal up the wall to the outside.
    Yet another problem solved!

  • eruss66

    hormonal birth control pills seem to be causing some problems in marine ecosystems. women are collectively pissing out hormones that seep into ponds and streams, which are affecting the wildlife in those environments.
    here’s an article about it:
    or you can just google search it; there’s been a lot written about it.
    if hormonal contraceptives get popular with males as well, what will they be pissing out and contributing to local water? would those hormones affect anything? i would hope the drug companies would be responsible and look into the long-term effects, but since they don’t seem to be working on finding solutions to the ecological issues surrounding female hormonal contraceptives, i think it’s unlikely that would be a primary concern when developing those drugs for men.

  • Demosthenes XXI

    Fine…DTA…don’t trust anyone; it’s your body, as feminists are so fond of saying. But guess what, if both of you are on the pill, then the chance of pregnancy is even lower than if one of you were on it.
    If you hook up with a guy who claims to be “on the pill,” but you are still on the pill, then you’re covered…and if he’s bullshitting, guess what? You’re still covered.
    By the way…this is what guys have to go through when a woman tells them that “they’re on the pill.” It’s “Russian Roulette” with sex organs…if you pull the trigger on a bullet, then you’re a daddy.