Research studies focused on hormones and human sexuality facilitated the development of contraceptives for women beginning just over five decades ago in the late 1950s. Considering the diminutive history of the inclusion of female reproductive system in medicine, it is unsurprising that the initialphysiological contraceptive development focused entirely on women. Since the second war of the world, researchers have developed at least thirteen new female contraceptives. This stands in strident contrast to the development of male contraceptives. In the past century, researchers have not developed any new methods for men, with the exception ofthe enhancement of existing ones, namely sterilization and condoms, both which date back to the 19th century (Nieschlag, & Behre, 2013).
Researchers focused on human sexuality first introduced rubber condoms around 1860, whereas male sterilization (also known as a vasectomy) dates back to the late 1890s. In the early years of the second half of the 20th century, scientists developed better-quality condoms, and in last decade of the same century they introduced polyurethanecondoms. As such, the revolution regarding contraceptives has remained principallylimited to female methods (Kogan, & Wald, 2014). Nonetheless, recent research advances on male contraception show that we could potentially have new methods of contraception for men widely available in the near future. This paper examines the history and development of contraceptives for men, the pros, and cons of male contraceptives, the male contraceptive method that would be most appropriate, and who, between the man and the woman, should pay for them. The paper also highlights some of the reasons why a man would use male contraceptives or not.
The History and Development of Contraceptives for Men
Because of the innovation in methods of contraception for women – including the intrauterine devices (IUDs), hormonal methods such as Norplant, and hormonal contraceptive pills–female methods have come to prevail as family planning practices. Oral contraceptives for women, female sterilization, and IUDs account for the majority of methods of contraception currently in use. As such, there exists a wide gender gap in contraceptives that call for the need to develop male contraceptives. Feminists first challenged the gender disproportionateness in contraceptives in the decade between 1960 and 1970 (Kogan, & Wald, 2014). In the case of hormonal contraceptives, particularly the pill, the request to come up with new contraceptives for men stemmed from outside the research community. More specifically, in this instance, social pressure came from Asian governments, most notably India and China, and feminists in the Western countries (Extance, 2016).
Feministscalled formen to share the responsibility and hazards of health that come with the use of contraceptives, while governmental agencies pushed for the inclusion of the “overlooked50 percent of family planning” as the object for the development of male contraceptives (Extance, 2016). In the decades between 1970 and 1990, questions regarding the male pillappeared regularly in newspaper headlines, especially during the time when reports about the grave health risks of using the female pill surfaced (Kogan, & Wald, 2014). According to Extance (2016), even though research in the reproduction of men and the development of different methods for male contraception has increased owing to these pressures, the male pill and other new male contraceptive techniques are yet to appear on the market. Accordingly, for the past four decades or so, the term “male pill” has become engrained in our language.
The very fact that the male pill has become entrenched in our language since the 1970s shows an atypicalpattern in the prevailing technological culture. Contrary to other technological developments where drive-in processes change with technology diffusion, nowadays, the notion of a male contraceptive pill has become deeply engrained in our culture, despite the fact that the technology itself is yet to come into existence. As such, the concept of an oral contraceptive for men functions as an inexplicable symbol of our culture. Those who have no information regarding the methods of contraception presently available might tend to hold the belief that both men and women can opt to use oral contraceptives. However, in real sense, the term “male pill” is a symbol of a potential technology that nonetheless appears to be difficult to make a reality (DCYB, 2017).
Over the past few years, journalists have reported advances in research focused on new male contraceptives, echoing “the male pill” phrase and accordingly promulgating the notion that it is on the verge of becoming a practicable method of male contraception. Headlines from newspapers, magazines, and websites –“The Race for the Male Birth Control Pill,” “A Pill for Men – Five years Away,” and “We’re One Step Closer to Hormonal Birth Control for Men” – exemplify this point (UW, 2014; Kissling, 2010; Almendrala, 20
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