Why is the male birth control pill so hard to understand?

Posted at 3:22 PM Feb 10, 2010

By Andrea Grimes

Seems every time the issue of pharma releasing a male birth control pill comes up, the first thing that pops on everyone's lips, regardless of gender, is a joke or quip about how men can't be trusted to take the things, so why would we even make them?

Some lady over at BlogHer thinks that since men cancel dates, they can't take a pill. What?

Do I really want to trust a man to be reliable enough to take a pill on a daily basis? I mean seriously, some men can't even commit to canceling a date, returning phone calls, etc., etc. So I'm supposed to think there are men out there responsible enough to take a pill?


I don't think I'd take those chances.

I cancel dates. I forget to clean out my fridge. Once I found my keys in the bathtub. I will ignore certain e-mails for days.

But you know what? I can manage the monumental task of popping a pill every dinnertime so that I don't have a baby if I don't want to. Look, I know men are portrayed as bumbling buffoons in cleaning product commercials and on sitcoms, but most of the ones I know manage to get out of bed every day and lead mostly normal lives. I'm betting they can take a pill.

This dismissive attitude isn't just bad for men. It's bad for women. And it's not feminist.

Feminism champions every individual's right to make reproductive decisions about their own bodies. If men pooh-poohed women's contraceptive pills because women cancel dates sometimes and said we really should only use condoms so that men have proof they're safe (women's health be damned!), the uproar would be ... uproarious. As it stands, making a male pill sound ridiculous just serves to absolve men of taking reproductive responsibility.

Also, are women supposedly only taking birth control pills for their partners? I take my pill because I, Andrea Grimes, don't want to have a baby. If a guy wants to take a pill because he, Some Dude, doesn't want to have a baby, are we really just going to laugh away that right? Because men are bumbly or something? Please. If a male pill existed, I would absolutely still take my pill until I was in a monogamous relationship with a dude who wanted to continue taking his--or get a vasectomy. Because I don't want to have a kid. And, like women, guys deserve to have a variety of options when it comes to reproductive health.


Paul said:

I wish like hell that there was a male version or the pill.

NorthSteve said:

Hell, it'd be nice if there was a male version of the pill. As oppose to a permanent operation? I could handle taking a pill every morning.

Anonymous said:

In the future we will hear men say: "it's OK baby.. I'm on the pill" :/

Mishi said:

I thought there was a male contraceptive pill being trialled at the moment? Unfortunately, there are guys out there that would lie about being on the pill to get out of using a condom.

B said:

Well said Andrea. Everything is right on this article.

Nima said:

Please make pills for men! I'm married adn while we both made the commitment to wait for kids, i'm the one one the pill. not to say there isnt any pull out method going on if i happen to forget a few. which i do. even with a daily reminder on my phone.

Kris said:

@Mishi- If you're having sex with a guy you don't know well enough to know for certain he's on the pill, you should be using a condom anyways to protect against STDs. Because if he could be lying about being on the pill, imagine what else he could be lying about.

Paul said:

Kris beat me to it, but yeah, being on the pill is no excuse for not using a condom.

getnice said:

"Why not have another alternative, besides a condom, for men to use, because we all know men use condoms ALL the time (rightttttttttttttttttttttttt)."

Let's play... Pronounce That Parenthetical!

Mishi said:

Thanks guys, but I was referring to a hypothetical situation. I know of several girls that lie about being on the pill, without thinking about all the other things that might happen, so why would that stupidity be limited to just the one gender?

Andrea said:

Mishi -

I think what we're all saying here is that sex is risky. Period. And that if you're going to have sex, it is your responsibility to protect yourself and be honest about yourself with your partner. Which means deciding if you can trust someone enough to have unprotected sex with them. And I don't think that's gendered.

I think the pill is about knowing you are almost certainly protecting yourself from an unwanted pregnancy. That shouldn't be the exclusive domain of women. Why should men take womens' word for it that they take their pill properly every day? It's a matter of trust. Why should women take a man's word for the same thing? Well, they shouldn't. Which is why, ultimately, pill or no, it comes down to people being smart about sex. Which we know people are not, a lot of the time. So if we give guys the option to take a pill, that doesn't mean they can't or shouldn't wear a condom at their or their partner(s)' insistence. A male pill would mean peace of mind for dudes (definitely) and peace of mind for women (maybe). Wins all around.

Are some people still going to lie to their sexual partners about pills, condoms, STD's, etc? Yes. But a male pill--and talking positively about one--would give more people more control over their own reproduction, and I like that.

fROOT said:

STUPID HORN DOGS! = http://bit.ly/aLVq4D

Mishi said:

I completely agree, and there are a lot of people out there that still think that pregnancy is the worst thing that can happen. I personally think the male pill is a brilliant idea, because I believe in having as many choices about one's own reproduction as possible. Unfortunately, I think it could be open to abuse like the female pill sometimes is with people that indulge in casual sex and/or unsafe sexual practices.

Kris said:

I still don't see why you're even pointing it out, though. Yes, it's possible to lie about the male pill. Also the female pill. This gives men a measure of control they'd like to have. If you say they shouldn't have it because they could lie, then by that logic, women shouldn't have the pill either.

JR said:

I would just like to point out that most men from about age 22 on take daily vitamins and other pills. What would one more do? You're right- the dismissive attitude is very harmful to not only this argument, but the concept of manliness in our society. The world would be a better place if every sexually active man and woman took their own pills.

Somecooldude said:

Thank you Andrea for putting this into the proper perspective. I can't believe anybody would be opposed to this idea. Anybody who would be in favor of women having a birth control pill and NOT men is a sexist and their opinions should be discounted as the riff-raff that they are. Whatever happened to equal rights? Men should be able to take responsibility for their actions just like women should, and god willing, EVERYBODY should take responsibility for their actions! I know most people don't, but why limit their ability to do so? That's just foolish. Kudos to you Andrea for being awesome.

The Scarlet Pimpernel said:

You're missing something critical: men don't have a vested interest in the outcome of sex, not to the degree that women do. It's a lot easier to be religious and motivated to remember a daily pill when the consequences of forgetting will haunt you directly. (Yes, a kid is the man's responsibility too, but he doesn't have to lug it around for 9 months.)

Somecooldude said:

@Scarlet Pimpernel:
Excuse me? Men don't have a vested interest in not paying 18 years of child support? Are you crazy? Just because men don't have to worry about becoming pregnant does not mean that they don't have to worry about taking responsibility for producing a child.

Sam said:

The problem is that women have a lot more to lose if they don't regularly take the pill. Men can't get pregnant and therefore have less incentive to remember to take it regularly.

Somecooldude said:

Obviously The Scarlet Pimpernal pretending to be a guy. What guy would make that argument? How absurd.

Ryan said:

I would love a male birth control pill. I've been in a 4.5 year relationship with a girl. She's on the pill, but has to take antibiotics often enough, that we always use condoms as protection against pregnancy. We are both faithful and plan to get married and have children eventually, so I'm not worried about STD's. We'd love to not have to use a condom and this would give us a chance without having to worry about an unwanted pregnancy.

nodata said:


WTF are you talking about? Stop hating on a woman for expressing her opinion. If you are a homosexual that is totally okay. No one will judge you. Be open and honest...that is always the best approach.

interesting said:

JR said:
I would just like to point out that most men from about age 22 on take daily vitamins and other pills. What would one more do?


i cant stand pills. we are living in a pill popping generation and its making me sick
anything under the sun happens and OMG YOU NEED A PILL FOR THAT!!!
only to find out in a year or ten that the pills you are on cause the biggest list of medical problems ever seen by modern man and you should join the class action suit the dude on tv keeps popping up commercials for because if you are experiencing any of the symptoms (including DEATH) then you are to be compensated..

that being said, i'd take a male pill if it was available (and cheap or free)
i cant wait to have kids and i love the way pregnant women look, but i'm not ready for children yet, at least not financially, so having a male pill would give me a lot of peace of mind

Bob said:

Your article just jumps around while saying nothing with meaning. You poo-poo some lady at BlogHer who says that she won't rely on a man to be responsible for her reproductive system. Why do you poo-poo that? You don't actually supply any arguments against her, which would be difficult, seeing as she is absolutely right. And who is making a male pill sound ridiculous? Sources, please?

david karapetyan said:

Condoms work just fine.

Anonymous said:

Would the pill go in the weiner?

Anonymous said:

Would the pill go in the weiner?

Anonymous said:

Would the pill go in the weiner?

robert said:

Ten years ago, we were told the male pill was five years away.

I for one believe it will never come because of idiots like Bob (see above) and that lady blogger.

Major Headache said:

As a woman who suffers from classic migraines (the ones with auras), it's very hard to find a GYN or doctor to prescribe any kind of birth control (oral or not) since your risk of stroke more than doubles. (Heck, just having migraines doubles your risk for stroke!)

Having a male birth control pill would really help women who can't take birth control for medical reasons.

Joh n Dawson said:

No way dude, I wouldnt take it.


Anonymous said:

Thank you.


Kate said:

I can't beleive the pill is even viewed as relevant with HIV still looming.

Seriously, folks - baby-making type bodily fluids can cause more harm than unwanted children/child-support payments.

Play safe or don't play at all.

the last poster said:

woman dont want the male pill because it will take away all thier power to lie, manipulate and trick men into having babies that they never wanted. luckily, men are beggining to wise up to these woman who just want a free meal ticket and excuse to quit working.
most woman only work until they find a sucker to support them anyway. just like they always have since the start of the working world. A baby does the trick quite nicely.

Kris said:

Kate, the pill isn't only for one night stands and hookups. Couples in committed relationships still need to take some form of birth control to prevent winding up like the Duggars.

Noah said:

Uhh, yeah, Kate. My girlfriend and I are totally at risk for HIV in our monogamous relationship. Are you trying to say that the industry that develops all this stuff for sex Can't handle developing two products at the same time? Somehow they can't manage to research ways to cure HIV/AIDS, AND research ways to make a male birth control pill?

I want the pill because it would make sex a lot more enjoyable, in just the ways of spontaneity. Neither of us like having to deal with the preparation process of the condom. When we get in the mood, we just want to go at it, not pause to consider which side of the condom is the right side and how much lube should be used for safety. WE WANT THE PILL TOO!

Shay said:

It's silly to have such pre-judgements when they were not given a chance in the first place...

Because we all know it's not unheard of that a women would lie about being on the pill to have a baby (to trap the man of her choice or just because she wants one). A women can lie just as much as a man can.

Tony said:

Im a guy, and I am dying for a male pill to be out there. I would still use a condom too. any extra option/protection would be amazing.

Somecooldude said:

Sorry for hating on The Scarlet Pimpernel for her argument which I feel was absurd. Anyway, she and others also failed to see a major point: Condoms break! Not all women can take birth control pills as a secondary measure against unwanted pregnancy, and the male birth control pill would give us a third line of defense against this. As we all know, no form of birth control is 100% effective anyway other than abstinence. It's still possible to get pregnant if the woman is on birth control and the couple is using a condom. This mitigates that minimal risk, and like I said before, not all women can take birth control as some are allergic and some get headaches and many don't want the hormonal changes that take place in their bodies.

darin said:

as someone who is a successful college student, with high grades, its scary when a girl says shes on the pill, because you never know if she wants to settle down with someone, or drag you down, i would love to have the ability to take a pill everyday to ensure i can have a kid, seems sexist to me that men are considered not responsible enough, i know plenty of girls im friends with that are pregnant or had a kid because they forgot their pill.

Dwayne said:

I absolutely would never trust a woman to take her birth control. I sure wouldn't believe her even if she told me she did. I've had way too many scares, where they were supposedly "on the pill" AND we used condoms, but then they pulled the "I missed my period" thing. Granted, in each case, it was a fucked up individual who lied to get attention (it took me quite a while to start realizing who those types of girls were). To avoid that sort of issue, I wanted to put the reproductive process solely into my hands. Unfortunately, there were no birth control pills for men, and condoms are notoriously error prone (both I and my brother are the result of accidents, for example).

Rather than simply use a condom and hope for the best, or give up sexual intimacy entirely, I had a vasectomy at the ripe age of 24. I needed to have that control, and unfortunately I had no way of guaranteeing that - or even reduce the possibility to "overwhelmingly unlikely".

It's unfortunate that some women don't think they can trust men, but it's also likely they've had bad experiences with stupid men - it's not as if they're making up statements just for fun, after all, but rather more likely that their significant others have always been boneheads. I can understand that. At the same time, not all of us are that way. Some of us just want to plan our families out as best we can, rather than expect our significant others to be the only line of defense - and choice - in our relationship.

A male pill would be a godsend for many men. No more would they be petrified by a pregnancy scare - whether real or faked. Or at least the odds of that happening would have been greatly lessened.

As for women laughing at this - take your own pill. Use a condom. But don't be upset that men are taking their pill as well. Never let your guard down - either gender - and hopefully you can ensure you never have an unexpected surprise.

Z-man said:

As for the gal at BlogHer who thinks all men are irresponsible; just take YOUR pill AND bring a condom too and you will be okay. You don't have to be a man to be irresponsible. I know of a woman who had stopped taking the pill without telling her significant other (just dating) just so she could corner him into marrying her. I am not assuming that because she told me so. Andrea, thanks for seeing both sides.

Male said:

I am a male and I hope that the current paradigm continues. Why take the risk of messing around with my endocrine system, my hormones, and even just the slightest responsibility of taking a pill, when I can let the womens worry about that?

DirtyHooker said:

I agree completely. I want men to have access to birth control pills so men and women can take equal responsibility for their respective fertility. Surprise babies are a lot less likely when two people are on birth control. Unless they're both morons.

SmarterThanU said:

As a guy I'm firmly opposed to a male birth control pill. Why should I invest my time, energy and cash in the same birth control scam women have been jumping through for the last 50 years?

I'd prefer to do some research and find one of the better BC options out there and go that route. Top of my list currently is the RISUG (Reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance), a 1 time injection that completely prevents your risks of causing a pregnancy with no constant pills to track, no hormones to upset your body and best of all it's currently being tested as an anti-HIV agent to protect your partner from contracting the disease.

With options like this why in the world would anyone ever want to deal with something as sloppy, clumsy or just boring as Birth Control pills?

fatkid said:

The pill is designed to take the sperm count down to zero. Disease is NOT the issue (Humanity has already ruined that path.) If ur bringin someone else into your bed every week thats your own luck or problem. Keeping from having a child should be a choice NOT an accident.

jax said:

i agree with Dwayne, i know a man that used protection every time. and his lady decided on her own she wanted to have a baby so that he would not leave her... so she stopped her pills. its was only a matter of time before the condoms failed... not fair, he had no control over his fate. except to not have sex, but goodness they are married.... women want equal rights?? well,bring it. men deserve the same freedom of choice that we have. women are crazy...

Adam said:

I agree with Jax.. I know that poor guy too.. Preach on sista!

Andrew said:

Totally agree. There's no reason that this can't be created outside of a culture that says there's no market for it, which is patently false. I'd much rather have the option to take a pill. While some men may be too lazy to do it and some women with fake ideas of "empowerment" think that it would somehow deny them of the right to dictate on this issue, it's the only way (other than a condom) for the male in the equation to know that birth control is being used. Both parties should be taking birth control, but let's face it, you can only control what you do.

Chris said:

I would buy it. Why do all these women think you can't trust a man the same amount men have to trust women? Women lie. Yes, I said it. As other posters have said, women lie to trap men or get a baby and child support.

This would allow women more freedom. They wouldn't be the ones responsible for preventing pregnancy. If they don't trust the man, they could still take their pill or use a condom. Basically, it makes a baby the responsibility of both partners. The "But we used a condom!" thing is gone. It makes men, who are fulfilling a basic need (Maslow's hierarchy) responsible for not hurting someone else's life.

I bet if they marketed it as a way to have sex without a condom, men everywhere (including me) would rush to get it. Don't tell me it "has no marketability".

Alison said:

I'm with you I'm sure men can manage to take a pill each day.The attitude of someone like this woman who claims men are basically useless and couldn't manage to take a pill.....Man basher....NOT feminism!

girls play wow too said:

I think a choice other than condoms for male borth control is awesome. I'm currently on the pill and have never missed, but if my boyfriend ever wanted to go on a pill w/e to help with prevention that's awesome.

Of course we all have to be responsible for what we're taking and saying that you can't trust a man to take it is a load of shit. Whether a man or women, people are people and some will still lie about prevention to try to screw someone up.

I agree with the somecooldude too cause in cases of girls not being able to take pills my married sister being one of them (she developed rashes from hormones) and had to get the more painful non-hormonal IUD typically used on women thatve already had kids whoch she hasn't had any. A pill for a guy is not going to be nearly as painful as an IUD lol and will still provide that 1 set of protection

michael said:

i just thought about is there really a birth control for men so i got online to see and sure enough there was. but does it really work and how can i get it?

Chris said:

we need the hormonal birth control. thats all

Soni said:

That is literally the opposite of what I was thinking. I think if men were able to take birth control we would see some of the lowest birth rates for unwanted children in our history. I have heard women talk about forgetting there birth control on numerous times. I honestly do not know how someone can forget to take a pill once a day. To me that is like forgetting to brush your teeth. It should never happen.

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