I read about a new male form of birth control. It’s a gel that is rubbed into the shoulders every day. The gel contains two hormones, one of which is testosterone. The Phase 2 studies show it is effective after eight weeks. The amount of testosterone in the gel is small emough not to push the man’s overall level of the hormone outside of the normal range.

I was a little surprised to learn that testosterone alone can reduce sperm count. That seems counterintuitive to me. It really does. The second hormone, nesterone, is used in female birth control devices. It allows a lower dose of testosterone while still being effective.

This is the first practical male birth control other than condoms. It may reach the US market this year. I was interested to learn that it doesn’t stop all sperm production but reduces it to the point that conception is very unlikely. Like female birth control methods, it isn’t 100 percent effective, but does meet current medical standards.

This gel represents a proven reversible method of male birth control. The method I chose is a vasectomy, which is very difficult to reverse but much more effective than any other male method. Like the pill for women, this gel requires religious daily application. It also isn’t immediately effective. It takes eight weeks before sperm count is reduced.

Now, both sexes have non-surgical, non-mechanical, reversible methods of birth control available. I didn’t see any discussion of the side effects of the male gel. Since it is a hormone treatment, there are bound to be some.  The pill has a long list of potential issues.

Neither the pill nor the new gel protects against STDs. Condoms remain the best bet for that. Assuming a right-wing Congress doesn’t outlaw birth control, I imagine couples will have interesting conversations about who should be responsible for birth control.

We men aren’t used to paying attention to a daily routine to prevent pregnancies. We will have to become more aware of our role in birth control. Until the advent of this new gel, the most we had to do was remember to put on a condom. Our partners could remind us if we attempted to go in bareback. It’s a very different story to remember to apply the gel every single day. We aren’t used to that.

It remains to be seen when this gel becomes available and how much it will cost. I wonder how women will react to its availability. I’m not so sure that guys will be enthusiastic adopters. What do you think?

Listen to this post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *