When it comes to birth control, men are rarely trusted to use any form of conventional contraceptive. But there’s a reason scientists are focused on developing a birth control option for men: It might just be the safest, and most effective, method.
“Right now, the only options on the market [for men] are roughly insufficient; there is the vasectomy, which is not reversible, and condoms, which have a pregnancy rate of 18 percent — mainly due to inconsistent use,” explains Aaron Hamlin, executive director of Male Contraception Initiative, a group advocating for the development of birth control options for men.
There’s definitely demand for something better: 52 percent of more than 84,000 respondents in a June survey by the group Telegraph Wonder Women claim they would take the male contraceptive pill if it were available.
“Before 1960, when The Pill hit the market, the condom was the main method, so it was a shared responsibility,” Hamlin points out. The shift toward placing the burden on women when it comes to birth control has had negative consequences for both genders.
At the moment, several promising research studies focusing on different stages of the fertilization process are being carried out across the world. But how close are we to developing a birth control option for men?
“People have been saying ‘10 years from now’ ever since 1980, so I’d rather not repeat that as it is too difficult to tell,” says Dr. David Sokal, MCI’s chairman. “It depends mostly on the funding. We have the technical skills to develop non-hormonal contraceptives, but without resources to do the research it could be 30 years or 50 years.”
We take a look at four most promising candidates.