Shifting Responsibilities: Birth Control for Men

If you were to do a Google search right now on ‘Birth Control’, the types of articles and resources you’ll find will be almost exclusively aimed at women or people with vaginas.

For example, in my Google search (I am based in the UK), the NHS website will tell me some of the options: the combined pill, the diaphragm, the IUD, or the contraceptive injection. Other articles start by stating that birth control is to ‘prevent pregnancy’. This may not seem biased at first, but the options the NHS has shared with me are aimed towards women or people with vaginas, and by stating ‘to prevent pregnancy’ insinuates that it helps to stop a woman from getting pregnant – as the harsh reality is that men won’t need to be put in a life and body altering position through unprotected sex. People with penises can opt out at any point, but for people with vaginas it is a totally different story – we can choose to have a baby if we get pregnant, or we make the difficult decision to have an abortion and will probably have to deal with the uncomfortable and emotionally draining experience of doing so. So, we, as women or people with vaginas, will continue to take pills altering our hormone balance, injecting ourselves with even more hormones, sticking a copper coil inside of our uteruses all to make sure that if we don’t want to get pregnant, we won’t.

But what about men, or people with penises, what do they do?! The most well-known male contraceptive method is the condom, but research has shown some quite shocking stats on how much we actually use this method of contraception…

60% of survey respondents (both male and female) conducted by a non-profit organisation say they rarely or never use a condom. A further 50% have said they never used one! Some of the reasons for not using condoms included: ‘My partner didn’t insist we use one’, ‘I hate throwing them away’,and 16% of respondents said they would have used one if it ‘didn’t ruin the moment’!

Both men and women are guilty of not making the condom standard practice in the bedroom, when actually the benefit of it is two-fold – it is 98% effective for protecting against unwanted pregnancy, and also protects against STDs too.

So, there’s an elephant in the room, and that is: is there another option?

What other contraceptive methods can males and people with penises use?

A recent study found that 1 in 3 men would want to use a male birth control pill, and this number is sure to rise with more research and more options for men to take control themselves and protect themselves and their sexual partners from unwanted pregnancy.

Just this week it has been confirmed that mice trials of the ‘male pill’ have been 99% effective, and may be available to the general public soon. There are of course real risks with taking a hormone pill – similar to the contraceptive pills women or people with vaginas take – including weight gain, and depression. It’s being worked on as we speak, and perhaps this could be an option some time in our near future!

Here are some final alternative options for males or people with penises:

Withdrawal: Otherwise known as the glamorous ‘pull out method’, withdrawal essentially means to remove the penis from the inside of the vagina before male ejaculation.

Male Vasectomy : This is a definite option for some men, however the procedure can be nonreversible so as you can imagine, a lot of sexually active males won’t select this method unless they are 100% sure they never want children.

On a final note, I’d like to express the importance of speaking to any sexual partner you have or will have in the future about their preferred method, so you’re able to find something that works best for you both. DON’T be afraid to ‘ruin the moment’ – we must normalise these discussions to protect our mental, physical, and sexual wellbeing. Tell your male friends and family members that there are options, and we need to encourage ourselves and others to be aware of them, use or practise them, and to share this with others.

Words by: Sophie Simmonds

Sophie Simmonds is the Client Engagement Lead at Matchable Volunteering – who support Impact Organisations & Non Profits to find skilled volunteers where they need it most. Sophie is currently volunteering with Omgyno to support with content creation



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