Today, women have many more contraceptive options that are much more effective and reliable including rings, patches, injections and diaphragms. The concept of male contraception has evolved in a similar manner. As early as 1000 BC, men were using thin layers of linen, leather and silk paper to prevent conception. In 1855, rubber condoms were invented. Men were instructed to wash them after use and reuse them until they crumble.
A majority of middle-aged, married couples are in favor of trying male contraception, according to a study published in the Journal of Sex Research. William Marsiglio, along with researchers in the Department of Sociology at Ohio State, found that women are more hesitant about men using birth control than the men are themselves.
"A woman could be hesitant to rely on her partner’s actions when the consequences of his mistakes would affect her body," Marsiglio said. "This could be because she does not trust the man to use the contraception correctly or that the physical act of taking the pill gives her a sense of control."
Since the subjects were middle-aged and married, the study did not answer the question of whether younger, unmarried people would be as willing to welcome the idea of male contraceptives into their lives.
"I would never take a pill that messed with my ability to reproduce," said Tyler Smith, a student at San Diego State University who is currently not in a relationship. "It is too risky, and we don’t know what the possible long term effects could be. I always use a condom, and other than that it’s not in my control."
Daniel Major, a California State University, Chico student who is currently in a romantic relationship, cited other reasons why he would never consider using a form of male birth control. "This may sound ridiculous, but I feel like it would make me feel less masculine," Major said. "Birth control has always been associated with feminine things. Messing with my sperm count or forcing me to ‘shoot blanks’ would make me feel like I had been neutered."
College women seem to have similar reasons to the middle-aged, married women for being hesitant about the concept of male birth control. Katie James, a University of California, Santa Barbara student, has been dating her boyfriend for over a year. Although she claims that she trusts him completely in every other aspect of their relationship, she would be unwilling to trust him with the full responsibility of contraception.
"I just know that I would be too anxious every day, asking him if he had remembered to take his pills on time," she said. "If he messes up, I end up pregnant. I
just feel more comfortable knowing that I am taking my pills correctly, and if something goes wrong, I have no one to blame but myself."
Although most of the college students questioned were completely against male contraception, one man thought of a way that the birth control could be used to his advantage.
"For players like me, this new idea is a blessing," said Joseph Shank, a UCSB student who dates several women. "I could fool around with anyone I wanted and have no fear of getting slammed with paternity accusations."
There may be other reasons besides promiscuity that could tempt men into trying these new methods of contraception as well. According to John Schieszer, a writer for msnbc.com, many men have been targeted by women for the sole purpose of getting pregnant. These male victims are often actors or famous sports players who are financially stable. The pregnancy would allow the woman to raise her child without monetary struggle or perhaps it would give the women her sought-after fifteen minutes of fame.
It has also been the case in the past that married women have stopped taking their birth control without telling their husbands in order to have a baby and hopefully save their marriage.
According to the Helium Pregnancy & Parenting Site, this tactic is unlikely to work successfully. The man often feels betrayed and the true problems within the marriage would still remain unsolved. In these cases, male birth control would help ensure that men also have control when it comes to deciding whether or not they are ready to have children.
One important thing to remember when considering male birth control is that it does not necessarily need to take the place of other forms of birth control. A couple could choose to use more than one type of contraception if it would make them feel more confident and in control. Birth control pills may lose their effectiveness due to certain antibiotics, if they are not taken at the correct time, or if a person throws up within 3 hours of taking them. To have both partners on a birth control pill would help decrease the likelihood that one of these situations would result in an unwanted pregnancy.
Also, no form of birth control, other than the condom, works to prevent the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases. For this reason, partners that are sexually involved but not in a monogamous relationship are advised to use birth control pills as well as a condom, according to the CDC.
Clara Levy, a UCSB student who has never been in a romantic relationship, says that every one of her female friends is on birth control pills, even if they are not currently involved in sexual relationships.
"Not all sexual acts are planned out like they should be," Levy said. "People often make bad decisions, especially when they drink. Being on birth control can help alleviate the possible negative consequences of those experiences for men and women."
Levy does admit that there are some differences between the sexes, however, when it comes to birth control needs. She says that unprotected women could become
pregnant if they are raped, which is not as uncommon as some might believe. By being on birth control "just in case", they could eliminate this possibility.
"Plus, many men go out just looking for any girl to have sex with," Levy said. "Perhaps the possibility that they may impregnate a woman might be the one thing stopping them from acting on every urge. If men are able to let go of all sexual responsibility by taking birth control, know knows what might happen?"
* The image above is not my own