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Stop Our Sperm, Please! Many Men Demand Male Birth Control - Why Don't We Have Any?

Men should have an option beyond condoms and vasectomy.

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Of course, this is coming from a belief system that is against all artificial pregnancy prevention, male or female. But Lissner nonetheless hopes that reversible male contraception can take some of the heat out of the debate over fertilized eggs and contraception, the same one that has fueled the Personhood movement and antiabortion activists’ opposition to the morning-after pill. “You can’t get any further away from the egg than male contraception,” Lissner says. “You just completely take the abortion issue out of it.” On the other hand, she adds, “You can be opposed to male contraception if you’re opposed to people having sex.”

The potential method that’s probably furthest along is also the most high-profile, the aforementioned Vasalgel, subject of a Wired  feature last year. (It, too, took note of the ferocious enthusiasm of male contraceptive aspirants, including the Florida man who memorably wrote a researcher, “I’d gladly put my balls on the chopping block for the benefit of mankind.”) It’s described as “a polymer gel that goes in the vas deferens and kills sperm for more than 10 years.” Lissner’s foundation just began rabbit trials this week and hopes to start on humans next year.

So far, there’s been less visible enthusiasm for the so-called clean sheets pill, which would be taken before sex for a semen-free orgasm. Lissner is enthusiastic that this could double as an HIV prevention pill for men (including men who have sex with men and aren’t worried about pregnancy). But for whatever reason, putting out initial feelers on funding and public interest didn’t yield much. The relative indifference may be due to sentiments expressed by the following Internet  comment: “The ability to provide a money shot is the only advantage to being a man. It’s the reason we put up with war, brother. This will never, ever work.”

 

Irin Carmon is a staff writer for Salon. Follow her on Twitter at @irincarmon or email her at icarmon@salon.com.

 
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