Birth Control for Men

Several new forms of birth control for men have been in the works, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved none of them—yet. Some scientists are working on a pill that will deform a man’s sperm. Others are testing an Intra Vas Device (IVD) that consists of silicone plugs that can be surgically inserted into a man’s vasa differentia (the tubes that transport a man’s sperm). Still others have created a shot that can be injected into the vasa differentia, which will permanently block the transport of sperm. Another injection will partially block the passage of sperm, and damage the ones that pass through. Other drugs aim to prevent a man’s sperm from being able to attach or enter a woman’s egg.

One of the most talked-about forms of male contraception is hormonal birth control. One way this would work is through injecting the man with a synthetic female sex hormone (progestin) in order to halt sperm production. By acting on the pituitary gland in the male brain, the two hormones that signal the testes to produce sperm can be reduced. When this was tested in men, it was decided that the men should also rub testosterone gel on their shoulders, because progestin decreases testosterone.

Other scientists are developing a 1.6-inch progestin implant that can be inserted under the skin of a man’s arm. This would be supplemented with testosterone shots every three months. Since men might not be too enthused about birth control that requires routine injections, other researchers have proposed an implant that would contain both testosterone and progestin. But most guys probably won’t be too thrilled about any kind of birth control surgically inserted under their skin, either.

A male birth control pill is also in the works. It could work by increasing the level of testosterone in the man. Through a chain of biological reactions, this would cause the man’s body to halt sperm production. With the added testosterone come side effects, however, such as acne, weight gain, prostate gland growth, and abnormal liver function.

With all these new drugs, one can only imagine the side effects that will inevitably be discovered. For example, what will happen when a chemically deformed sperm successfully impregnates a woman?

Gels, shots, pills, implants, herbs, patches, and everything imaginable have been proposed, but nothing has been licensed in the United States yet. One reason for this is because the drug companies behind these products are afraid of how many men will sue them for the inevitable side effects.[1] It is astounding how far mankind will go in order to avoid the demands of self-control.

[1]. Gail Vines, “Contraceptives?: There’s a Revolution Going on in Birth Control for Men and Women. But the Drugs Companies Have All but Abandoned Research,” New Scientist (April 30, 1994), 36.

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