A birth control pill for men?

"America and the Pill"By Elaine Tyler May

Excerpted from “America and the Pill: A History of Promise, Peril, and Liberation,” by Elaine Tyler May excerpted by arrangement with Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

Seeing over the years how many different forms of ‘the Pill’ are put onto the market every year, it does make me wonder why the hell there’s no pill for men yet! ….Can it really be that hard to come up with a pill that can make men shoot blanks?

-Leslie C, age 27, 2008[i]

Of the many hopes that greeted the possibility of hormonal contraceptives, none was more elusive than the promise of a pill for men.  While the arrival of the oral contraceptive for women made headlines around the world, scientists were quietly working on a similar pill for men.  But the male pill never made it to market.  In fact, since World War II, thirteen new contraceptives for women became available — including various oral contraceptive compounds, IUDs, injectables and patches — but not one new male method.  By the mid-1990s, only a fraction of the funding  for contraceptive research was dedicated to male methods. [ii] Yet, for more than half a century, researchers proclaimed that a pill for men was just around the corner.

In 1969, Good Housekeeping enthused, “The notion of a birth control pill for men strikes some people as a kind of science-fiction idea.  Actually, development of a male pill is easily possible in the near future – probably within the decade, according to some experts.”  Describing the many research projects underway to develop a new contraceptive for men, the article concluded that “remarkable progress is being made.”[iii] In 1976, three scientists predicted that with adequate support, a male pill would be on the market in 15 years.When that did not happen, the prediction was postponed another twenty years.  But the optimism that a male pill would become available “soon” never disappeared and, in fact, still prevails.[iv]

Excerpted from “America and the Pill: A History of Promise, Peril, and Liberation,” by Elaine Tyler May excerpted by arrangement with Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

 
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Comments

  • Shannon Ennis

    Erica Jong’s observation that “Irony is a vestigial bone in the television viewing audience” made me laugh so hard I passed a birth control pill as though it were a kidney stone. Bravo!

  • douglasstearns

    men, need and want more choices for birthcontrol

  • Mohammad Samir Siddique

    Men absolutely do not need a pill.  It really does come down to cost v. benefits, and honestly speaking, the side effects that come with the pill are not even close to the benefit that males could get.  Use a condom, correctly.  Not only will it prevent pregnancy, but it will also protect against sexually transmitted disease, something the pill does not do.