Contraception does not always have to be a woman’s business
Contraception is a woman’s business? Not at all. Men can also do something about this, as there are now various contraceptive methods for men – and now also new ones. But what about the acceptance and, above all, the confidence of the fair femininity towards male contraception?
- New promising contraceptive methods for men are already being researched and tested
- 78 percent of men worldwide would adopt contraception, but fear of side effects is very high
- Greater demand for different contraceptive methods spurs research
Contraceptive methods, potential obstacles and realistic solutions.
In a recent study, We-Vibe, leading manufacturer of couples’ vibrators, and YLabs, U.S. research organization from the Harvard Innovation Lab, explore key questions about the “future of male contraception.”1 For this, more than 3,500 people and seven sex experts from different countries were interviewed and promising contraceptive methods, potential obstacles and realistic solutions for a future with equal contraceptive culture were analyzed. The study shows very clearly: the majority of men want to take on the shared responsibility and the chances are good, because the increased demand is boosting research.
Since the invention of the female contraceptive pill in the 1960s, couples who do not wish to have children can have a fulfilling and self-determined sex life. In most cases, the responsibility for this lies with the woman, partly because there are too few male contraceptive methods. Meanwhile, however, fewer and fewer women want to take on the side effects of the pill as well as the responsibility. By comparison, in 2010, 46 percent of women up to age 20 with public health insurance were still prescribed the pill. By 2020, the share has dropped to 35 percent.2
Men want to use contraception
On the other hand, the We-Vibe study clearly shows that men want to use contraception. Globally, 78 percent of male study participants want to share responsibility for contraception with their partners and are positive about male contraceptives. This development is being driven primarily by Millennials and Gen Z. They are increasingly challenging existing gender roles and responsibilities. For example, 83 percent of respondents attribute responsibility for contraception to all parties, regardless of gender identity.
“In the end, everyone benefits from different contraceptive methods. They can strengthen the relationship and trust and enable both partners to enjoy their intimate moments even more. Good sex is not a one-way street. When both partners feel comfortable, in the mood and, above all, safe, sex can become a much more pleasurable shared experience,” says Johanna Rief, Head of Sexual Empowerment at the brand.
Fear of side effects
Even though there is a strong interest among men to use their own contraception, 41 percent worldwide say they would not tolerate side effects, especially if it could affect their libido. But women who were interviewed as part of the study also find it difficult to relinquish responsibility. There is too much concern that the partner might not take the contraceptives regularly.
So there needs to be a significant cultural shift where men demand and want to use contraception and women are willing to relinquish some of the responsibility.3
Promising contraceptive methods in the near future
Currently, two male contraceptive methods with great potential are being studied in more detail:
, a gel that can be applied to the skin and effectively reduces the number of sperm.
, a non-hormonal injection into the vas deferens that stops the release of sperm.
Both approaches have so far shown little or no side effects. This point in particular will be enormously important in the development of new preparations for men.
Pharmaceutical companies must invest
Safety remains one of the biggest challenges in contraceptive research in general. Because these are products administered to healthy people and are not used to treat disease, tolerance for side effects is particularly low among medical regulators such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). These stringent safety requirements also explain why no major pharmaceutical company has yet looked at potential male contraceptives.6
Most of the funding comes from government and non-profit organizations (e.g. Male Contraceptive Initiative).7 Research would progress more rapidly if large pharmaceutical companies participated in the research with financial resources.
Increased demand for contraceptive methods
According to a recent UN report, half of all pregnancies worldwide are unintended. Unplanned pregnancies occur more frequently, especially in socially disadvantaged and low-income regions.
Unfortunately, contraceptives are not cheap and women often bear the costs alone. For example, women spend an average of 68 percent more on private health care costs than men. The reason for this: condoms are considerably cheaper than other contraceptive methods for women.
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The landmark decision “Roe v. Wade” (1973), overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2022, which had offered everyone the right to abortion, is also increasing demand for contraceptive methods. This decision not only impacts abortions, but also limits access to birth control pills in some states.
According to a survey conducted by Lovehoney in the U.S..9 40 percent of women say the repeal of Roe v. Wade will affect their sexual pleasure. In the Gen Z group (aged 12-27), the figure is as high as 68 percent of women.
1 We-Vibe Future of Male Contraceptives Study (June – August 2022). Within this study, seven experts and 3,549 people from seven different countries (France, UK, US, Canada, Spain, Germany, Switzerland) were interviewed.
2 From a Statista graphic based on an AOK analysis of SHI prescription data.(https://de.statista.com/infografik/22555/anteil-der-gesetzlich-versicherten-frauen-denen-die-pille-verschrieben-wurde/)
3 New Male Contraceptives May Be on the Horizon | 2020-08-28 [Internet]. Relias Media | Online Continuing Medical Education | Relias Media – Continuing Medical Education Publishing. [cited 2022 Aug 8]. Available from: https://www.reliasmedia.com/articles/146800-new-male-contraceptives-may-be-on-the-horizon
4 NES/T – Nestorone and Testosterone as a combination gel, which is absorbed through the skin on the shoulders and arms and shows minimal side effects. Expected to be available on the US market from 2027.
5 RISUG – Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance – a long-term, non-hormonal, reversible contraceptive expected to be launched in India from 2022.
6 How close are we to getting a male contraceptive? [Internet]. Pharmaceutical Technology. 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 8]. Available from: https://www.pharmaceutical-technology.com/news/how-close-are-we-to-getting-a-male-contraceptive/
7 Reynolds-Wright JJ, Cameron NJ, Anderson RA. Will Men Use Novel Male Contraceptive Methods and Will Women Trust Them? A Systematic Review. The Journal of Sex Research. 2021 Sep 2;58(7):838-49.
8 Unintended Pregnancy and Abortion Worldwide [Internet]. Guttmacher Institutes. 2020 [cited 2022 Aug 8]. Available from: https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-worldwide