For years, we’ve been hearing rumors about birth control pills for men. It’s prompted many hypothetical discussions. Would men be as quick to alter their natural hormonal balance with a birth control pill as they expect women to be? Would they take it as faithfully as they expect women to? Would they say they were “on the Pill” when they weren’t? Would they be willing to take as much responsibility for family planning as they believe women should? Is The Pill even necessary for men if they’re already fastidious about condom usage?
Well, it appears that those hypothetical conversations are moving closer to practical application. Researchers with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Baylor College of Medicine have made recent progress in the development of a pill that could eventually be used as male birth control. Testing on mice has produced the following results:
The compound, known as JQ1, penetrates a boundary in the cells of the male testes and shuts off sperm development in the testicles. The result is non-hormonal birth control that researchers said is entirely reversible.
“Within one to two months [after discontinuing the drug], there was complete restoration in testicular size, sperm number, sperm motility and — importantly — fertility,” said Dr. James Bradner, an oncologist with Dana Farber and an author on the study. “The litter size was normal, and there were no obvious, adverse symptoms in these animals.”
If this pill ever makes it past FDA approval and into the public market, what implications do you think it will have on birth control/family planning responsibility? It’s true that each party should take responsibility for his or her own contraception, but it’s also fairly common for men to place the bulk of the contraceptive burden on women. We have multiple methods of birth control while, to date, they’ve had only condoms. Could The Pill for men begin to even out the obligation?