It’s almost here: a birth control pill for men.
Researchers believe they have found a small molecule that could make males reversibly infertile without damaging their sex drive. The study was successfully conducted on male mice with no adverse side effects, giving scientists hope that a new pill could be on the market sooner rather than later.
For years, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the search for a birth control pill for men that is both effective and free of hormones. Since many women are unable to take hormonal birth control, an oral contraceptive for men would go a long way towards preventing unplanned pregnancies.
Some may argue that an effective birth control method for men already exists: condoms.
When used correctly, condoms are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. Moreover, condoms are the best method for preventing the transmission of HIV and other STIs. Sadly, many people use condoms incorrectly; in fact, condoms have a 14-15% failure rate. Combining barrier methods like the condom with hormonal methods remains the best way to prevent both pregnancy and infection.
However, many people who don't think pill-based male contraception is necessary also don’t see the need to pay for women’s birth control when condoms are so readily available.
Conservative blowhard Rush Limbaugh, for instance, argued that taxpayers shouldn’t being paying for women’s birth control. “… The Washington, DC, Department of Health will send you free condoms and lube … If we are going to pay for [women’s] contraceptives and thus pay for [women] to have sex, we want something for it. And I’ll tell you what it is. We want [women] to post the videos online so we can all watch.”
Though his argument is crude (at best), Limbaugh does point out that women did have access to free birth control even before the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) was passed. Many organizations give away free condoms and lube, which can be used as pregnancy prevention tools. However, this statement glosses over the complexities in the battle for improving women’s healthcare. Access to affordable birth control is not about encouraging women to have rampant sex; it’s about giving women better quality healthcare.
If this male birth control pill does make it through rigorous FDA testing and is released to the masses, the next question will be who will have access to it. Under Obamacare, if birth control is free for women, it should be free for men, too.