You might think that since scientists have been working on a male birth control option for ages, there would be a solution by now. Unfortunately, since the creation of the birth control pill (and since the beginning of time), the responsibility onus has largely fallen on women.
Now, new trials in Indonesia suggest we might have a male birth control pill in the near future. That’s right: boys and men, on the pill. This could be a reality very soon. For Indonesia at least.
Except that … this development isn’t entirely new. Back in September, we wrote about Vasalgel—a male birth control injection that keeps the vas deferens from releasing sperm— which was still being tested. But a daily pill would be an entirely different method. Along with avoiding injections to the scrotum (um, yikes!), this new pill for men is non-hormonal (i.e. no nasty side-effects!) and works instead by killing the enzymes that help the sperm reach the egg.
Lead scientist on the project, Bambang Prajogo, told the Global Post “It’s 99 percent effective.” The pill’s key ingredient is gendarussa, a plant that Indonesian tribesman learned long ago naturally kept them from getting their wives pregnant. After several successful clinical trials, researchers predict the pill to be on the market in Indonesia by 2016. Of course, it will take longer for the pill to reach the US market because of strict FDA standards and further clinical trials. When it is made available in the US, it might just revolutionize how we treat access to reproductive rights as a culture and in our politics.
(the gendarussa plant)
As Arianna Huffington (played by Nasim Pedrad) once told Seth Meyers on SNL’s Weekend Update, “If men could get pregnant, abortion clinics would be like Starbucks. There would be two on every block and four in every airport, and the morning after pill would come in different flavors like sea salt and cool ranch.”
Whether men would use a birth control pill is the real question. Remembering to take it can be annoying, and getting a prescription from your doctor adds another pesky step. On the other hand, the male birth control pill might be a welcome substitute to the condom in cases where couples aren’t worried about STDs. All we know for sure is the commercials for it would be gold.
Images via SexInfoOnline and J.M. Garg/Wikimedia Commons