Since the invention of the female contraceptive pill 55 years ago, women have had to be in the driving seat when it comes to birth control.
In fact, hundreds of years before that ladies were inserting crocodile dung up there as a way to steer clear of unwanted pregnancies.
But now, much to the delight of women everywhere (and probably a fair few men too), a non-hormonal contraceptive pill for guys could soon be on the cards – all thanks to a new crowdfunding campaign.
“Men only have one reversible contraceptive: condoms,” says David Sokal, board chair of the Male Contraception Initiative, a nonprofit which furthers research into new male contraceptives.
“Condoms are low-cost, easy to get and protect against disease,” he says. “However in real world use, about one in six couples will get pregnant in a year.”
This is the crux of the issue – women can get pregnant, whereas men obviously can’t.
And it’s this simple biological fact which can often lead to a “it’s not my problem” attitude among guys, says HuffPost UK’s executive editor, Poorna Bell, in a blog on male contraception.
The scientists behind the new male contraceptive pill campaign have heralded their research as a “breakthrough” for men.
The drug works by targeting and blocking a protein that is “virtually unique to the testes”.
Dr Gary Flynn and his team of researchers from Stanford University believe this protein is critical to the proper production of sperm.
“The game-changing potential of his early-stage drug is that it is non-hormonal in nature and specific to the protein,” reads the campaign site.
“In addition, the fact that this protein is only found in the testes suggests a low risk of side effects.”
This, of course, is fantastic news. Especially as many women have had to put up with years and years of undesirable side effects caused by the pill.
It also seems a far less troublesome way of protecting against unwanted pregnancies than a vasectomy – which is irreversible.
Currently, scientists are running animal studies to help prove the concept – so we probably shouldn’t get too excited just yet – however they hope to use the current drug design as a template to create a more “potent and effective” version.
So far, they’ve managed to raise $8,417 (nearly £5,400) of their $98,720 (£63,000) target.
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“I love the premise of the campaign that quite rightly points out that women have shouldered the contraceptive burden for so long, it’s about time men took responsibility,” sex and relationships expert, Tracey Cox tells HuffPost UK Lifestyle.
“But it’s always been easier to control one egg than millions of sperm – so I don’t think it’s necessarily men’s fault.”
Cox adds that she has her doubts about whether men would take it or not. “Men aren’t used to taking medication. They’re more suspicious of what it might do and the side effects,” she explains.
“I also think, generally, women are more organised than men are because they multi-task a variety of roles. We have to be organised.
“The likelihood of men forgetting is higher. And at the end of the day, the person who’s at risk of pregnancy has the higher motivation to take the pill. And that will always be the woman.”
Meanwhile, Natika Halil the chief executive of sexual health charity, FPA, says she welcomes the research but believes it’s too early to say whether it would work or not.
“This particular research is still in the early testing stage, so it would be a long time before it could be available for people to use,” she says.
“In the meantime it’s important to remember that condoms are a very effective method of contraception.
“Crucially, they are the only method of contraception that can protect against sexually transmitted infections.”
This is the second time that the issue of male contraceptives has been raised recently.
At the end of 2014, the Parsemus Foundation announced it was running trials on a contraceptive called Vasalgel, which acts in a similar way to a vasectomy by blocking the ducts that move the sperm to ejaculation.
According to researchers it’s ‘likely’ to be reversible and will be available in 2017.
Although we have to admit, this ‘low risk’ pill from the Male Contraception Initiative definitely sounds more appealing.