Summary: Scientists soon will start another round in the revolutions shaking society by producing a male contraceptive pill. The effects could be wonderful, improving family planning and helping reduce pollution and minimize climate change.
Prepare for the next drop in fertility
The average number of births per woman based on age-specific fertility rates.
From the Population Reference Bureau.
By Valerie Tarico at AlterNet, 20 April 2016.
Today almost a third of American couples rely on the man to prevent ill-timed or unwanted pregnancy, but for young men who may want a child in the future, the options stink. Condoms are the best means available to prevent STIs, but in any given year one in six couples relying on condoms will end up with an unplanned pregnancy. …Vasectomy is highly effective, but since reversal may not work, it’s not an option for men who don’t already have the family they want.
By contrast, “get it and forget it” methods for women drop pregnancy risk below 1 in 500, have bonus health benefits, and return normal fertility. When it comes to people being able to manage their fertility, we are a long way from gender equality.
The good news is that the last decade has brought increased understanding of male reproductive physiology and revealed potential new methods to safeguard against an ill-timed pregnancy. No single method will ever fit for everyone, but a variety of potential contraceptives (mechanical or pharmaceutical, shorter or longer acting, reversible or permanent, some enhancing libido or sexual function and some sexually neutral) could offer men real choices that fit their age, culture and lifestyle. Some may even have bonus health benefits like increasing energy and muscle mass or preventing balding.
…In the words of Aaron Hamlin at the Male Contraception Project, “It’s been 55 years since the Pill for women came to market in the United States. The Pill for men is long overdue.”
Tarico describes several promising lines of research — at least one of which almost certainly will work — and excellent links for more information.
What effect might this have? We can only guess at how many men might use their new veto on child-making (surveys suggest that half of men are willing to use it even now). My guess: the effect will be large, perhaps very large. The massive effect of the women’s pill was a surprise to society; the men’s will surprise as well.