According to a multinational survey of 9,000 men published in the Journal of Human Reproduction in February 2005, 55 percent of men in long-term relationships expressed interest in trying male birth control- so long as it is reversible after ceasing use.
Historically in our culture, the job of preventing pregnancy has always fallen primarily on women’s shoulders. Aside from condoms, the only birth control currently available commercially is for female use only. Male birth control is not yet commercially available but is expected to be within the next decade. A pill called 11-beta-methyl-19-nortestosterone dodecyl carbonate, or 11-beta-MNTDC for short, is currently being tested for effectiveness. Research is also being done on a topical gel called NES/T that is designed to be applied to the back and shoulder area daily. The Population Council is collaborating with the National Institutes of Health to conduct studies determining the effectiveness of the NES/T gel in NICHD’s Contraceptive Clinical Trials Network.
The risks of female birth control are many, ranging from female-specific cancers to depression and even infertility in some cases. We as a society are just recently starting to talk about the physical and mental dangers that can go along with taking it in any form. Male birth control, albeit still in its early stages of development, is so far thought by experts to be less disruptive to the body than its female counterpart. It has passed initial safety tests, although it is still pending FDA approval.
Experts on the forefront of this research are questioning how effective male birth control would actually be. Dr. Paul Turek, a male fertility specialist, has questioned: “whether the pill actually decreases sperm production or only hormones tied to it.” “(The pill) does not show any effect on sperm. We have no idea whether sperm will actually drop. And it needs to drop to zero.”
As far as how realistic male birth control will prove to be- in my opinion, that has more to do with the individual than the product(s) being offered. Men and couples who are already proactive about taking care of their health, particularly their sexual health, will probably be responsible for remembering to take male birth control if they choose to use it. As with anything else, a habit must be established to ensure that the proper doses are taken on time each day for maximum effectiveness in pregnancy prevention.