Male Contraception Methods You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

One method of male contraception is safe and practically free, but few men have heard of it.

In “The Best Birth Control In The World Is For Men,” Jon Clinkenbeard calls RISUG the perfect birth contraceptive. RISUG stands for “reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance.” Two common chemicals are injected into the vas deferens, where they combine to create a polymer that coats the insides of the vas. When seminal fluid passes through the vas, sperm are “torn apart” by something called “the polyelectrolytic effect.” Because the treatment does not block the vas altogether, there is no danger of seminal fluid backing up as it can sometimes do following a vasectomy. The procedure is effective for ten years, but can be easily reversed with another injection.

In a second article on TechCitement by the same author, Clinkenbeard confirms that RISUG holds hopes for reducing HIV transmission. In addition, there is a nonhormonal male contraceptive pill being developed that is expected to prevent all semen-transmitted STIs. “Could This Male Contraceptive Pill Make A Vas Deferens In the Fight Against HIV?” Pardoning the pun, because the name for the pill is even funnier, the “clean sheets pill” in development at Kings College in London works by affecting muscle contraction around the vas deferens, preventing semen from being discharged during male orgasm. Because there is no semen, there’s no transmission from male to female of any STI.

These and other forms of male birth control you have never heard of are described in detail on the Male Contraception Information Project website. One of the methods described uses only wet heat, applied daily for three weeks, to convey reliable, reversible sterility.
Clinkenbeard and others cite the financial woes that prevent male contraception from being brought to market. Organizations like the Gates Foundation and USAID have had their funding slashed, and pharmaceutical companies have not stepped up to fill the gap. With methods like the wet heat method, there is no financial advantage to pharmaceutical companies funding FDA trials when there is no product to sell. For other methods of male contraception you haven’t heard of yet, like ultrasound, trials have not yet established human dosage required for effectiveness.

Because the field of male birth control is so underserved, there is a lot more that men can do than we think. There are methods that have been well documented in other countries that you can safely try, yourself. While ultrasound has the potential to cause permanent sterility and so shouldn’t be experimented with, the availability of inexpensive sperm test kits and a thermometer will allow you to start using the wet heat method right away. If your ideal solution comes in a convenient to take pill, you can help make that dream a reality: the Parsemus Foundation is currently accepting donations toward research on the “clean sheets” pill.

 

—Photo shino 誌野/Flickr

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About Justin Cascio

Justin Cascio is a writer, trans man, and biome. His most recent publication is a short memoir, "Heartbreak and Detox," available on Kindle.
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Comments

  1. PursuitAce says:

    Great article. Now if we can just get us knuckleheads to use some of these methods…

  2. Anthony Zarat says:

    “Because the field of male birth control is so underserved, there is a lot more that men can do than we think.”

    None of these methods are available, approved, or legal. There is NOTHING that men can do except put our future in the hands of others.

    • “There is NOTHING that men can do except put our future in the hands of others.”

      And wear a condom. Sorry to constantly harp on about this, but I feel like it’s something that gets overlooked. Women have more options, but men aren’t completely powerless when it comes to contraception.

      Anyway, you and I have discussed male contraception, and I agree that men need more options. Reading this article about points to the fact that there are options that have been created, they just need to be tested and mass produced. But as this article points out, you can try the “wet heat” method yourself and apparently funding is being gathered for the “clean shets” pill. It’s a small start, but it’s a start.

      • Agreed, Heather. Don’t play a victim role, here Anthony. There are people working hard to get RISUG here in the states as well as the other things listed.

        And condoms are a great choice! Use ones with spermacide for an even higher safety rate. Flush them down the toilet and then it’s a sure thing! Bring a Today Sponge with you and help her put it in!

        (peeps should be using barrier methods anyway if it’s a new encounter and people haven’t been tested)

        Refuse intercourse and opt for oral or manual sex, even if she wants PIV.

        I know men don’t like condoms. I get that. Women don’t really like them either. But women don’t really always like remembering to take the pill or dealing with it’s side effects. But millions of us take it religiously. The IUD is a painful painful thing to insert and doesn’t always work well with some women. Some women are very sensitive to spermacide but deal with it.

        It’s about what we have at hand, communicating thoroughly about it, and working together to get more options.

        And being assertive not passive.

        • Does Today sponge still exist??? Maybe not.

          • Woman's view says:

            The sponge has been back on the market for a couple years. One problem is that it’s expensive and they keep jacking up the price as it becomes more popular. 2 years ago I could buy a 3-pack at CVS for $15. Now it’s $18+ for a 3 pack. If you have frequent sex you could easily spend $100 a month on this method. It really sucks b/c the sponge is a great option for monogamous couples who don’t want to use other methods. For example, I can’t take the pill due to a family history of blood clots and I don’t want an IUD because I already have problems with cramps, heavy periods and excessive bleeding which IUD’s can exacerbate.

        • Anthony Zarat says:

          Men are not “playing victim”. We are vcitims of an intentional campaign to prevent the availability of male contraceptives. This reality, its history, and its motivations are all clearly explained in this video (with translation into english):

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JymN5yu-K_o

          Male contraception has been available since the 70s. The reason why men are DENIED access to these technologies is POWER.

          • Anthony, I am a fierce proponent of everyone getting access to birth control. I would love a male pill/thing. Love it. Have been talking about RISUG to anyone I can reach. I”m a feminist.

            I’ve watched this. When was the video filmed? Interviewer mentions she first talked to him in the 70′s. What happened since them? I want actual cites on the drug. I want cites on China’s current usage of it. I want papers connected to it’s efficacy. I’ve heard of this drug on other sites and it appears that permanent infertility was mentioned as a side effect, and I’d LOVE proof that Betty Friedan said what she said.

            And, looking over her apparent response, she’s focused on the issue of who gets pregnant should a pill (any pill) fail. The woman. Perhaps her meaning was that just as a man would have to trust the woman (and the woman is trusting her self knowing SHE can’t get pregnant), to trust a casual stranger that he’s on the pill SHE would still be the one holding the bag so to speak.

            No matter who is on the pill, it’s the female of the species that gets pregnant. It would behoove both partners to either know each other well enough to trust that someone is on a pill/RISUG/Implanon or count on using a barrier method to keep sperm away from egg. Or both.

            His own words on the video indicated that because the product was natural and cheap it wouldn’t be much interest to pharma companies. This is believe. This I think is a HUGE barrier to any kind of BC that is long term for women OR men, that if it won’t make Pharma money, why use it.

            He indicates he doesn’t know who in Budapest in the ministry rejected the Pill, or why. And he also indicates in his own country the pill was not allowed on the market for “other reasons” which he doesn’t list “they gave me no explanations.”

            Which I don’t buy. Pharma does trials, they have ample evidence of why it works, doesn’t work, is dangerous or not dangerous and then drugs are approved and marketed. He’d know why it was rejected since it would have been his trials! Were there trials in the US? This isn’t mentioned.

            I know feminists may have a lot of influence over systems in the US, but I really seriously doubt that Betty Friedan making a statement about BC in Budapest was enough to get an entire communist Ministry to reject a drug.

            I’d welcome any journal articles from that time either about him, his pills, it’s current use in China.

            I googled Gossypol, the name of the drug (derived from Cotton seed) and found several articles indicating it’s toxicity levels being too high for human use. Here as well. “The large-scale trials of gossypol in Chinese men reported an abnormally high rate of hypokalemia among subjects, varying from 1-10%. Hypokalemia is characterized by low levels of potassium in the blood. Potassium is one of the elements used by the muscles and nerves to transmit signals. Symptoms of low blood potassium include fatigue, muscle weakness and at its most extreme, paralysis. Hypokalemia is usually the result of kidney malfunction, and can be caused by excessive consumption of diuretics. Researchers do not understand exactly how gossypol affects the kidneys.”

            Also, there were incidents of complete unreversible infertility.

            It’s possible that the toxicity level and permanent infertility was caused by the evils of Betty Friedan, but I somehow doubt it.

            No one should risk their life, kidneys or fertility for a pill that does work, but causes damage. Better we all work together to push for RISUG, which has NO apparent side effects and is completely reversible.

            • If that was TL/DR Gossypol was found by several countries to be too toxic for use, and could cause permanent infertility.

              Gossypol, the name of the drug (derived from Cotton seed) and found several articles indicating it’s toxicity levels being too high for human use. Here as well. “The large-scale trials of gossypol in Chinese men reported an abnormally high rate of hypokalemia among subjects, varying from 1-10%. Hypokalemia is characterized by low levels of potassium in the blood. Potassium is one of the elements used by the muscles and nerves to transmit signals. Symptoms of low blood potassium include fatigue, muscle weakness and at its most extreme, paralysis. Hypokalemia is usually the result of kidney malfunction, and can be caused by excessive consumption of diuretics. Researchers do not understand exactly how gossypol affects the kidneys.”

        • IUD, painful painful? I just had one inserted a month ago and while there was a moment of intense cramping during the procedure and some followup cramps that week, it hurt less than other things I’ve done to myself. (But of course, every woman’s experience is probably different.)

          The wet heat method fascinates me, but I would still be nervous to rely on that as the sole source of contraception. Maybe wet heat + condom would feel trustworthy (and I’m not talking about STI prevention here, just straight-up prevention of babies), but the hot water alone (even with the scientific evidence cited) sounds an awful lot me like those “theories” teens have about not being able to get pregnant if you have sex standing up, or other craziness.

          (True story: when I was a college freshman, a fellow freshman from a small town in Ohio actually believed a woman couldn’t get pregnant unless she had an orgasm. Hearing her say that struck fear in my belly, and my friends and I were quick to set her straight. Something tells me the sex ed in her school district was far from thorough, and her conservative parents didn’t fill in the gaps.)

        • Peter Houlihan says:

          “But women don’t really always like remembering to take the pill or dealing with it’s side effects. But millions of us take it religiously. The IUD is a painful painful thing to insert and doesn’t always work well with some women. Some women are very sensitive to spermacide but deal with it.”

          And all of these are excellent arguments in favour of developing male contraceptives ;)

      • Anthony Zarat says:

        Not private = not contraception.

        Contraception is CONVENIENCE when couples agree.
        Contraception is POWER when couples do not agree.

        Power over one’s own reproduction = reproductive autonomy

        Until men have a PRIVATE birth control option, we have no power, and consequently we have no autonomy. It does not matter how many side effects, discomfort, or pain comes with it. As long as it is PRIVATE.

        If a woman wants children, and a man does not, the only way he can act to protect himself is to visibly demonstrate that he does not trust her. This is not PRIVATE, therefore it is worthless. It is not worth “less” than it would be if it were private. It is worth nothing, meaning zero.

        Nofertil is private, and has been available for 40 years. WHY CAN’T I BUY IT?

        • Okeypokeydokey, I agree it should be able to be private, and I agree that having it not be private can be the source of power issues in an already problematic relationship. However, to simply say not private = not contraception is again too simple. If you can’t trust your partner, and if your partner doesn’t want you to use a condom…well then you have the option of not having vaginal intercourse. I mean it sucks, but it’s there.

          And, well look, the only forms of protection available to lesbians are visible barriers too. We’re not talking about contraception, just protection against STIs. It is different in that both partners are in the same boat…sort of…and sort of not. I mean, not to go into too great a detail, but there are sometimes I’ve been with a woman where I care more about protection than she does…and so what we actually do sexually is negotiated to reflect that. The big form of protection for lesbians is the use of a dental dam, but then so we just end up not having oral sex when we disagree on the use of a dental dam.

          I’m not saying it’s completely fair, I’m just saying that men are not completely powerless in such situations.

          “If a woman wants children, and a man does not, the only way he can act to protect himself is to visibly demonstrate that he does not trust her.”

          Well to this, if you’re talking about using condoms as an indicator that a man doesn’t trust a woman…well then you’re dealing with some women who are well behind the times. I don’t know any hetero/bi woman (or gay/bi man) who thinks that using a condom means that their partner doesn’t trust them. It’s not about trust; it’s about being safe.

          • Peter Houlihan says:

            There have been cases where women have salvaged sperm from a condom or oral sex. I can’t imagine why I’d stay in a relationship with someone who I knew was that determined to make me a parent against my will, but then maybe I wouldn’t know until it was too late.

            • I’m asking this question not because I condone any behavior that would constitute theft or forced parenthood, but given sperm has a very delicate shelf life (sperm might only live 20 minutes in a condom, or depending on the acidity of the saliva in a woman’s mouth (at most an hour), I’m trying to figure out how successful attempts would be.
              If a woman saved sperm from oral sex, she’d have to deposit it some place, get it up inside her (as most sperm entering the vaginal canal will also die due to it’s acidity level) etc etc. I have no doubt women have done such heinous things, but it seems like it would be really really hard to conceive this away.

              I’d suggest to anyone worried about it to a) flush your condom immediately after sex (or rinse it out in the sink) and in the case of oral b) finish outside the body where you can see it and wipe it up.

            • Peter Houlihan says:

              Sperm ar hardier than you’d think. At least some women have succeeded in doing just what you described.

              I’d rather have access to contraceptives than try to play games like that with my partner. Honestly, the lack of trust required to do all that could poison any relationship, its easier just to have a chemical which gives each partner control over their own reproduction.

              I do want to have kids some day, but I want it to be on my (and their) terms.

            • Well, duh! Anyone tampering with condoms bc ( and there have been cases of men tampering so that their partner would conceive) is immoral and a horrible person. It should be a crime in both directions.

            • I’m sort of with Julie on this one, with the questions she’s asking. Plus, not only does sperm have a very delicate shelf life, but even if you get it into the turkey-baster (or w/e) unharmed, it’d still be wicked awkward to try to do yourself. And then that’s not even going into the fact that often you don’t get pregnant the first time you try artificial insemination (at least that’s the info I’ve been given).

              But also, I’d be very interested in seeing actual, factual, statistics on how many women actually do this. And more importantly, I’d be interested in seeing statistics on how many women actually try to do this who aren’t like totally mentally unhinged in other ways.

              As in…I’m willing to bet it’s not about trust, or about women having power or something….it’s about a few people (who happen to be women) who are not mentally stable doing really crazy things (which includes, but is not limited to stealing sperm and attempting to impregnate yourself).

            • Peter Houlihan says:

              “But also, I’d be very interested in seeing actual, factual, statistics on how many women actually do this.”

              Honestly so would I, but that kind of academic research isn’t all that likely when gender studies department openly admit that they consider the term to mean women’s studies.

              Sorry, the Tom Martin verdict is bugging me.

        • Because the various FDAs around the world claim it is too toxic for human use. Gossypol, the name of the drug (derived from Cotton seed) and found several articles indicating it’s toxicity levels being too high for human use. Here as well. “The large-scale trials of gossypol in Chinese men reported an abnormally high rate of hypokalemia among subjects, varying from 1-10%. Hypokalemia is characterized by low levels of potassium in the blood. Potassium is one of the elements used by the muscles and nerves to transmit signals. Symptoms of low blood potassium include fatigue, muscle weakness and at its most extreme, paralysis. Hypokalemia is usually the result of kidney malfunction, and can be caused by excessive consumption of diuretics. Researchers do not understand exactly how gossypol affects the kidneys.”

          Also, there were incidents of complete unreversible infertility.

          • Anthony Zarat says:

            Chinese gossypol trials used excessive doses. This is what led to the toxicity.

            Nofertil trials (same medicine, much lower doses) showed only one undesired side effect, which you mention (irreversible infertility). This is a risk that should be made clear to the patient, but as long as the patient feelts it is an acceptable risk, why is the drug denied?

            • Well, find the groups lobbying for it now and work on it. I mean, that’s all ANY of us can do if we want something. Personally, I’d put my money behind RISUG since there are no side effects but do as you will. I’m just pointing out what the video did not. If Brazil itself didn’t approve it, why? The Church? The side effects? Something happened that wasn’t good and as much as I love a good conspiracy theory, I just don’t think Betty Friedan has that much power from Budapest to Brazil.
              So, go push for the drug-get a website, make a twitter and FB feed, talk to legislators you can reach and connect with other groups doing similar things.

            • I’m also in favor of RISUG—one (very cheap) injection that lasts ten years is practically foolproof.

              But gossypol isn’t out of the question—the toxic dose is approximately 9 times the contraceptive dose. So there is room to work with it.

              I agree with Anthony though—this is fundamentally about power and who wields it. While the women on this message board may be all in favor of effective, reversible, private, unilateral male contraception the women who actually wield power in DC and various state capitals (i.e., those who head up feminism groups and womens’ interest groups) will labor mightily to prevent this from becoming a reality in this country. The same way these women are militating against the repeal of lifetime alimony laws, joint physical custody laws and mandatory paternity testing.

              It’s about power. Wake up.

            • I’m all for being awake. I’ve been awake for years.

              So if it is feminism that has the biggest influence…..I believe it has some influence sure. I also think the lack of options for men has a lot to do with the pharmaceutical industry and what they think men will buy, personally.

              I follow money as much as anything. Money is the ultimate power. That’s why cigarettes are still legal I imagine. Cause they make more money then god. So if men demand it, lots of men, men with money, my thought is they’ll get it.

              Which is completely opposed to what I’d want of course. I’d want free/low cost access for men and women both for barrier methods and internal methods. But my plan won’t ever work in this country.

            • PursuitAce says:

              This would certainly be something that feminists and MRAs could both agree on. So what’s the problem?

            • Peter Houlihan says:

              The problem is that alot of feminists still exist for whom addressing male issues is literally a threat. The other kind exist too (just see Julie and Heather) but I’ve had some conversations with feminists lately that have really shocked me. Men’s issues literally aren’t allowed to be part of the conversation for some people.

            • “The problem is that alot of feminists still exist for whom addressing male issues is literally a threat. The other kind exist too (just see Julie and Heather) but I’ve had some conversations with feminists lately that have really shocked me. Men’s issues literally aren’t allowed to be part of the conversation for some people.”

              Exactly. The problem is that its those kind of feminists who wield institutional power, not more reasonable women like Julie & Heather.

          • Peter Houlihan says:

            Weren’t similar claims made regarding the side effects of oestrogen pills before women’s groups forced them into the market?

            • I don’t know, actually. I know they did lots of messing about with the levels of hormones in them. I personally am a result of that, as my mother changed dosages and well…bam, there I was. They still create new pills new hormone combinations to make the side effects (though non toxic, uncomfortable to some) more palatable.

              If women’s lobbies in the 70′s held up the male pill you know the only thing I can think? Aside from how short sighted it is? Is that to have control over your body for the first time ever. Ever. Ever in all of history this was the first time a woman could control when she got pregnant or not AND have sex, was so astounding that I imagine to risk losing it was terrifying. This was the 70′s by the way when things were so new and tensions quite high about “women’s libbers.”

              My mother told me stories about having to get her husband’s permission to get the BC in the 60′s. And if I’m remembering correctly, when she went in to get her tubes tied, he went with her to the initiating doctor’s appointment. I have no idea if they both signed forms, and of course it was a decision that they (as liberals) were probably making together, but things were different then.

              ((This are different now. And that doesn’t condone people being short sighted, or controlling, or fearful, but I think it gives me, personally a lens to look at it. It also, before anyone jumps on me as saying it was justified, NOT justified to turn the tables or swing the pendulum….but good goddamn, that’s what humans do ALL THE TIME. I wouldn’t really be that fucking surprised that when Group A loses power and Group B gets it, Group B gets all giddy about it acting like their new rules (same as the old rules in some ways) are better and more benevolent. Humans have done this through history.))

              So what to do now?

              I don’t KNOW that the theory above is correct or the case, it’s a story I’m making up in my head. I think the male pill would be AWESOME for two main reasons. 1) that man would always know he couldn’t create an unwanted child. 2) couples in trusting relationships could have the option of many forms of BC. As a woman, I’d still take my own BC because…as above, accidents happen yes? If I was not on the pill and he was, and he forgot it…or he was ill and his body’s chemistry mucked with the efficacy (both are things that can happen to women) and I got pregnant….I’d be pregnant….

              I really don’t see the political harm in having MORE methods of avoiding childbirth unless somehow women’s groups feared that once male pills were in place, they’d outlaw womens?

              Also, I’m cynical about something. We did a pole about safe sex here at GMP and condoms? Not good results folks. I often get the impression (here and from listening to younger men talk about BC out in the world) that what they want is a non barrier method that has no side effects. And that is never gonna exist, not with STIs, not with AIDS. RISUG is great and will feel good and all that non-condom stuff, but it won’t protect from STIs. Hell, oral chlamydia continues to be on the rise, and anal HPV leading to HPV in the throat is next folks. Barriers keep you safe. Women put up with all kinds of gross side effects from the pill (or can until they find the one right for them). This is not ideal for anyone. But it’s better than a baby no one wants or a disease that can cause brain damage or death.

              So, I think for one nighters (ha as if, Julie!) I’d always insist on a barrier method (each trust themselves more than the other) and so forth..

              In my science fiction world there are reversible RISUG type things for both men and women. They take them out when they are READY to have a child. Also there would be no STI’s. Also, people would be nice to each other and no one would act like an asshole, so get ready for that world, folks! It’s comin!

            • Peter Houlihan says:

              I’m not knocking their efforts, it was a massive step forward for everyone. I was just wondering if the same pressure is appropriate and necessary in order to secure access to risug.

              Also, as heather pointed out, condoms had been around for quite some time. Surely the invention of latex heralded the first time men or women could make reproductive choices while still enjoying PIV sex?

              Several people on the condom poll stated that they didn’t regularly have sex. I avoid using them personally, but then I don’t really enjoy penetrative sex to begin with.

            • Well, maybe but not at a universal 98% efficacy rate. Pesseries were invented long ago too, lemon halves filled with ashes or dung and placed in the vagina near the cervix. Clean! Didn’t always work.

              My mother couldn’t buy condoms in the 30′s and 40′s. Women and men might could use them together, but it’s a question too of access. Can both women and men get them, cheaply and readily? Do they know how to use them? Are there cultural norms in place that allow for communication around them?

              Going back to my mom, she told me once, “People have always had sex, even back in the good old days. But I had to pray the man had a condom and would use it. I knew lots of girls that had to get married cause there weren’t condoms.” I asked her if she could buy them and she laughed. The desire to fuck is always there, the accessibility and cultural norms surrounding sex is something different.

              And as I mentioned, she had to get approval from her husband in the 60′s to get the pill. In Texas anyway, I don’t know about other states. So…all those things were around. Could they be gotten and used correctly is another question all together.

              In fact, after the pill happened, condom use dropped yes? People though STI’s could be dealt with by use of antibiotics but then came Herpes and AIDS. So back to the condoms which then, as a public health concern (not an access to pleasure concern) were given out freely in clinics and bars.

              Now that HIV seems less dangerous (which it isn’t) condom use is down again, especially on campuses where lo and behold, Oral Chlamydia and HPV are rising.

              We need both, all, more.

  3. wellokaythen says:

    At the risk of sounding like an abstinence-based approach, I recommend babysitting a colicky baby as a quite effective means of birth control, or spending time at Toys ‘R’ Us the week before Christmas, or watching the video of a long and difficult childbirth. Nothing like the cold slap of reality to make you more circumspect about what you do with your anatomy.

    No, this is not a substitute for actual physical contraception. Just that I’ve always found observing parents to be an influential form of birth control. This would actually stimulate even more demand for access to reliable contraception methods.

    • PursuitAce says:

      On the other hand I find adults are generally a pain in the #$$. Kids I will take any day. Isn’t it a great world when you can have two completely different perspectives?

  4. QuantumInc says:

    I’m reminded of discussions on Feministing.com years ago asking the same questions. Why is there no FDA approved male contraception? Their conclusion was that contraception is seen as the female responsibility. Thus there are a lot of people in powerful places who just assume that men don’t care, and would never pay for any of it.

    The FDA requires a lot of money and require the treatment to reach some very high standards before they’ll let it into America. Combined with the above I can see why there aren’t any forms of male contraception. Obviously people need to wake up to the idea that guys need contraception too (and would be willing to pay for it).

    • No, the gov’t should pay for it. You know, the same deal women want with their birth control.

      • Woman's view says:

        I think the government should pay for birth control for everyone, men and women. It’s a lot cheaper than paying for babies.

        • dragnet says:

          I’m fine for the gov’t paying for things we all share, like infrastructure & national defense. I’m less okay with the gov’t paying for lifestyle decisions.

          • “I’m less okay with the gov’t paying for lifestyle decisions.”

            And at the risk of sounding like a broken record…I’ll point out that birth control is not about lifestyle decisions. A completely monogamous, married, couple will also use birth control if they don’t want to have a baby. And if they’re using hormonal birth control; they’ll be using the same amount (and it’ll cost the same) as a woman who has a one-night-stand every day.

            If/when a male pill/injection/etc is developed, then it’ll be the same thing. I don’t know how to get people to realize that using birth control does not equal a casual sexual life.

            • Peter Houlihan says:

              Non-reproductive sex is still seen as fornication by some religious types. Hence the whole lifestyle choice deelie.

            • “Non-reproductive sex is still seen as fornication by some religious types. Hence the whole lifestyle choice deelie.”

              I would’ve thought that this went without saying.

              A birth control is, in fact, a lifestyle decision. Having children is the logical consequence of having sex. Deciding you want to have children is a deeply personal decision you are making about the kind of life you want or are able to lead.

            • “A birth control is, in fact, a lifestyle decision.”

              Brill, then everything is a lifestyle decision. If you’re not okay with paying for birth control (cuz you think it’s a lifestyle decision), then you should probably be against your taxes going toward highways (because owning a car is a lifestyle decision), or paying for higher education (because everything past high school is a lifestyle decision), or public libraries (because using them is a lifestyle decision). Or an oldie, but a goodie, Medicaid paying for Viagra…because having sex is a lifestyle decision. How about tax exemption from donations made to charities? Surely being the type of person who donates money is a “lifestyle decision.”

              Or maybe you just don’t want your tax dollars going toward something that isn’t in keeping with your cultural morals? Well death is the logical consequence of illness…deciding you want medical treatment is a decision about the kind of life you want to have. I don’t think I should have to pay for it (i.e. through Medicaid or Medicare). How hey, I’m a Scientoligist and I’m against psychiatric treatment…insanity is the logical conclusion of a chemical imbalance in your brain…I don’t think I should have to pay for the psychiatric treatments of the criminally insane.

              Yeah, I’m being very snarky and sarcastic, here…but I’m hoping you can see my point. As a country, the U.S. puts it’s tax money toward giving people options in their lives…and birth control is another one of those options.

            • Spot on Heather, esp this “How hey, I’m a Scientoligist and I’m against psychiatric treatment…insanity is the logical conclusion of a chemical imbalance in your brain…I don’t think I should have to pay for the psychiatric treatments of the criminally insane.”

  5. So before I ask my question, let me reiterate that I think men should have more options, and that I agree they should have private options, like RISUG. Again, I am all for more and private options.

    Alrighty with that being said…I’ve a question, and I’m not being facetious. To the guys who are talking about being worried a woman is going to steal their condoms, or are worried about the power issues involved in having sex with someone when you can’t be private about your contraception: why are you having sex with women like that anyway? And yes, if it were reversed, I’d be asking the same question to women.

    I just don’t get having sex with someone you trust so little that your worried they’ll do something absolutely crazy like try to steal sperm. Or having sex with someone who you feel so powerless against that you view decisions about contraception as somehow contributing to the power dynamic.

    I understand that one nighters are somewhat different, in that you don’t ever really know the person you go home with…but then the person you go home with is in the same boat. They have the same risk…neither one of you knows (for sure) whether the other has an STI, and so a barrier method is the best choice (in part because that’s how you prevent transmission of STIs), but also precisely because it’s not private. It is visual proof that everyone is going to play safe.

    And one final time, for those in the cheap seats…I am pro-RISUG and other options.

    • A cheap shot from the cheap seat: That sounds almost like why argue for legal abortion when one could just avoid having sex with people you don’t trust/dont’ want kids with? Too often I’ve seen the arguments that men can just keep it in their pants if they don’t want to risk having kids. Too often that arguments comes from people who are nowhere close to saying that women who don’t want to risk having kids should keep their knees together rather than having an abortion. To make it clear: I’m pro-choice – I am just pointing out an inconsistency I often see in many feminsts who while sensibly arguing against abstinence-only sexual education and for abortion rights somehow end up spewing forth the abstincence argument or the not really any better “don’t stick your dick in crazy” argument any time a man brings up aspects of male reproductions rights and worries.

      More seriously: The danger is not from people you don’t trust, because against them you can more easily put safeguards in place. The danger is from people you trust who turn out to not deserve that trust. Try arguing with a “don’t live with people you don’t trust” argument against DV victims. The vast majority of people don’t have unprotected sex with someone they doesn’t trust, the vast majority of people don’t get into a relationship with a person they don’t trust to not physically abuse them.

      When my wife and I were trying to concieve the first time I checked out some message-boards aimed a prospective parents/mothers as we were getting closer to the point where we would look at options like IVF and so on and some of those boards had groups for people undergoing IVF and other treatments. It was not uncommon to see post/comments from women looking at options in a situation where they wanted a child while their partner/husband didn’t. Many of them contemplated deceiving their partner – usually by stopping using the pill and not inform their partner of this. I bet most of their partner trusted them and that many of them still trust them (when they said the pill failed, or that they “forgot” it one day). I haven’t found the source, but I found one article which said that the pill failed an estimated 50 times more often than it should do if used correctly. Some of that is probably honest mistakes (forgetfullness, ignorance (it doesn’t work as well if you got the runs)), but how much of that is not honest mistakes?

      A “survey” in 2004 in UK found that 42% of women would be willing to lie about contraception to their partner in order to get pregnant. (Survey in quotation marks since the sample of 5000 was self-selecting as it was a survey in the form of check-boxes in a trashy magazine). The validity of the number 42% is therefore questionable, but it at least suggests that that attitude is not uncommon.

      As the author of a pregnancy book, Vivki Iovine said:

      A lot of us feel like it’s not even really fair that men should get to vote, considering they could be 72 and, with a little Viagra, have another baby,” says Vicki Iovine, author of The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy. “For us women, it’s really a limited window. We know that boys who grow up to become men don’t necessarily want to be men. They like to be boys. And so women say, ‘You know what? He’s gonna just have to snap out of it—and my pregnancy will be the thing to do it.’” The end, says Iovine, sometimes justifies the means.

      As with paternity issues I wish things like this could be verified without trust being an issue. A private male contraception could do that for the issue discussed here. A mandatory paternity test at the hospital when one signs the paternity papers would do the same for paternity issues. As one woman commenter said in a discussion: “Mandatory paternity tests are a bad idea because they are expensive and unneccessary. If a man wonders if he is the father of the child he can request a paternity test. If my partner didn’t trust me and asked for a paternity check I would dump his ass”.

      Attitudes like that makes me question to what extent women really would accept full private reproduction choice among men.

      • Okay well your post is long so I’ll reply in chunks. Firstly, as I pointed out, I’d say the same thing to women. Secondly, I’m not saying keep your legs shut (or your pants up). I’m asking about partner choice. So your abortion question…any vaginal intercourse can (theoretically) result in pregnancy, and if it’s unwanted that could mean abortion…thus it’s not about partner choice. The whole ‘she’ll steal my sperm’ concept is very much about partner choice…this isn’t a danger every time a man has vaginal intercourse.

        I’m not saying “just don’t have sex.” I’m saying “just don’t have sex with her.” Which, when a really good friend of mine found out her boyfriend was secretly filming them having sex…I told her the exact same thing. She couldn’t trust him any more…and so I told her she should stop having sex with him (actually I suggested she break it off totally). But my point is it wasn’t out of spite…it was out of a lack of trust. I do not understand how she could still have sex with someone she knew she couldn’t trust.

        This is similar. If you feel powerless against someone, and if you feel like you can’t trust them (to the point where the privacy of your contraception is actually an issue) why are you still having sex with them?

        • For a man the abortion issue is very much a partner issue as it’s the woman who has (as it has to be) the final say about whether an unwanted (by her, him, or both) pregnancy should be carried to term. Couples finding themselves in such a siuation where it turns out that they have different view on abortion (either in principle or in a particular case (one partner wants the baby the other doesn’t) will not have an easy time of reconciling those two views. A partner’s view on abortion is therefore relevant before one engage in sex.

          Up until the point where your good friend discovered that her boyfriend filmed them having sex without her knowledge and consent I bet she trusted him completely. Your advice was sound and it is a testament of people’s irrationality that she continued to have sex with (implicitly trusting) that man even after he betrayed her trust. But my point is that she did have sex with him before she found out about him and at that point the damage (filming, abuse of trust) happened and no reasonable actions from her part could have prevented that initial breach of her initial trust.

          I strongly suspect that no women who would stoop to lie about contraception to get pregnant have a post-it note on their forehead saying “sperm stealer” and for the men who find themselves in the situation where they have become father’s without them wanting to do so because of a failure in female contraception do have the difficult choice of whether they should trust the mother of their children. There are many things to consider and stopping trusting the mother have potential for almost exclusively negative consequences (break-down of partnership, bad-blood leading to custody dispute, access, well-being of the innocent child as zie finds hirself between parents who have a complete breakdown in trust which again often can impact their ability to work together with the best interest of the child as a primary goal) and only one positive one: much less risk of additional unwanted children.

          I am talking about aggregates. Even though I trust my wife unconditionally in these matters I also know that plenty of people misplace their trust. I am guilty of the same as everyone who place their trust in someone – the belief that THEY (people I trust) won’t betray ME. The keyword being belief. Trust is not knowledge, it’s is based on belief.
          People who are victims of date-rape are people who misplaced their trust. I think it is absolutely wrong to put the onus on the people who trust when it should be on those who abuse that trust. The issue should be a condemnation of people who abuse trust put in them (as any women who deceived their partners about contraception in order to get pregnant have done) without blaming the victims (why did you have sex with her, she obviously proved that she was not to be trusted). Now, where have I heard similar arguments as mine before? Yes, that’s right: just about any rape discourse from feminists, slutwalk slogans etc. I think what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander as well. It disappoints me when I encounter people who disagree (either by inertia, ignorance, dogma or ideology).

          • “For a man the abortion issue is very much a partner issue as it’s the woman who has (as it has to be) the final say about whether an unwanted (by her, him, or both) pregnancy should be carried to term.”

            Ohmygoodnessgracious, we weren’t talking about abortion from the men’s perspective, but from the women’s. You brought it up as an example of where you though I was being hypocritical (though you were nice enough not to use that term), and I was pointing out that, no, it’s different. From the women’s perspective, unwanted pregnancy is always a possibility (technically)…whereas from the man’s perspective, a woman stealing his sperm is not all ways a possibility. Thus the difference (with regards to partner selection)…that’s as in depth as I was going into that discussion. I’m not interested in getting into a detailed discussion of abortion here, because it’s so very off topic.

            As for my friend, no actually she didn’t completely trust him before she found out about that. Which brings me back to what I’m saying…why the hell are people having sex with someone they don’t trust? (I should point out that’s pretty rhetorical. I understand that people do have ill-conceived sexual encounters all the time).

            It’s interesting you bring up discourse about rape, because I was thinking the same thing…in that the discussion treats all women as potential sperm-snatchers (instead of all men as potential rapists). The idea that any woman could be a potential sperm-snatcher, so men will be in a powerless position in a sexual encounter until they have private contraception. It sounds mighty similar to the idea that any man could be a potential rapist, so women should treat all encounters with strange men as a potentially dangerous one.

            I’m against victim blaming (both in the case of actual rape, and in the case of a woman actually trying to get pregnant without the man’s knowledge). But that’s after the fact…that’s after it’s already happened. I’m not talking about the actual instances where bad sh!t goes down…I’m talking about the fear people have that sh!t can happen, even when it’s not likely it will happen.

            Actually, the more I think about it, I think that’s part of the problem with our discussion here. I’m not asking people who’ve actually had this happen to them – hey why did you have sex if you didn’t trust them? That’s not what I mean. I’m asking people who are afraid this could happen to them – why are you having sex with women who you think might do this to you? It’s a subtle difference, but a real one.

            • Ok, we’ll leave abortion discussion out of it as it is off-topic as you point out.

              From the women’s perspective, unwanted pregnancy is always a possibility (technically)…whereas from the man’s perspective, a woman stealing his sperm is not all ways a possibility.

              This is a pretty strong statement. What you are saying here is that only men have the means to ensure 100% that pregnancy doesn’t occur. What can men do to prevent pregnancy with such an accuracy that women can’t do? I’d be interested in how you came to this statement.

              We are in agreement that one is wise to not have sex with people you don’t trust. I think we both agree that people sometimes trust the wrong people – with dire results in some cases and that telling people who end up being victims that they should’ve known better than to trust the perpetrator is a shitty victim-blamy thing to do.

              I posit that most people trust their partners. Even though we all know on some level that some of those people will be betrayed by their trusted ones. Trust is not certainity even though we like to be ignorant of this and treat it as such. The quality of life would be worse if we weren’t able to trust anyone else whenever there are any chance (however slight) that that trust might be misplaced. This goes both for men who on some level fear having children they don’t want and for women who fear getting raped. Stopping to place your trust will decrease the quality of life for most of them.

              That’s not what I mean. I’m asking people who are afraid this could happen to them – why are you having sex with women who you think might do this to you? It’s a subtle difference, but a real one.

              If you got a gut feeling that the person you are having sex with is not to be trusted with your consent (whether it’s about sex or conception) then you are of course right that one would be well off to listen to that gut-feeling. As I said before I believe most people do trust their partners and they should – the risk is small, but it is going to suck for those who are raped or deceived into parenthood by the ones they trusted.

              Some women do get offended and interpret it as a sign of mistrust if one insist on using a condom when in a long term relationship where the woman is using other form of contraceptions. Do I think women who react this way immature and/or insecure? Yes, I do. Do I think that they should be shunned/dumped by men? Not necessarily.
              Having a private contraception options lets men reduce that risk without affecting the trust issue either way – they have the option to take care of themselves without any negative consequences for the relationship or their partner. Just like women can when they get an IUD without telling their husbands.

              If you find it a mystery why private contraception options are important then I guess you wouldn’t disagree with people arguing that husbands should always be informed of their wives contraception uses?

            • Mate, I feel like we’re speaking in different languages…or like related languages, but we’re having a problem with translation or something. For starters, it seems like you’re reading a hell of a lot more into what I’m saying than what I mean.

              “This is a pretty strong statement. What you are saying here is that only men have the means to ensure 100% that pregnancy doesn’t occur.”

              That is not what I’m saying. That completely isn’t what I’m saying, at all. So let me try once more: Vaginal intercourse – pregnancy is a possibility (even with contraception it’s a very small possibility). It doesn’t matter if you’re having sex with your husband or some random stranger…trust doesn’t enter into whether it’s a possibility. It is not an issue of trust, because it is just a biological thing. The point is that it’s not about whether the man is a good man, or a crazy man, or trustworthy or not…it’s not about partner choice…it’s about the fact that, biologically, vaginal sex can result in pregnancy. (Contraception makes this risk minimal, but it’s there).

              Possibility of a woman stealing your sperm – not always there…it is not a biological fact that when you have sex with a woman she will steal your sperm. In this case it is dependent on the partner. In this case it is about whether the woman is a good woman, or crazy, or trustworthy, etc.

              You brought up unwanted pregnancy and abortion as saying it’s similar to the women-stealing-sperm thing…and I’m pointing out the difference. That’s it.

              “If you find it a mystery why private contraception options are important then I guess you wouldn’t disagree with people arguing that husbands should always be informed of their wives contraception uses?”

              Now I’m just getting frustrated…because how the hell do you get that I don’t think it’s important? OF COURSE I think it’s important. And of course I think everyone should be able to make contraceptive choices without informing anyone else. I flipping said as much…I flipping said – I am FOR PRIVATE CONTRACEPTION! I am for it. I don’t know how else to say it so you understand that I. Am. For. Private. Contraception. (For men and women).

              I’m just also for communication. What you’re saying, about men being able to take care of contraception themselves without hurting their relationship…again I’m brought back to the question of, what the heck is someone doing staying in a relationship where something as important as contraception can be such a power struggle and have such negative effects? You should have every right to have a private means of contraception. Like I said…you should have EVERY RIGHT to have a private means of contraception. But if you’re in a relationship where you’re worried about the power dynamic so much, or worried about her stealing your sperm…well then the issue isn’t your lack of private contraception, the issue is the relationship. (Again not you specifically, you in general).

              And you’ve still not addressed the fact that men’ll be using condoms to prevent STIs. Yeah you could use a diaphragm or a cap, but the most common barrier is a condom. So you’ll be back to it being visible, and back to sometimes being with sexual partners who might react badly to it. So then what?

      • Okay as to the examples your providing about women being willing to deceive their partners…mate, it’s the internet and a trashy magazine. I’m not denying that you found women on those message boards that’d be willing to try to get pregnant without their partner’s knowledge…but I do doubt that’s the norm (or anything even close to the norm).

        “The danger is from people you trust who turn out to not deserve that trust.”

        Alrighty but then…sounds like you don’t actually trust them, on some level. And, if you’re the type who is just always a bit worried that a woman’ll try to use your sperm to get pregnant without your knowledge, surely your also worried that she could give you an STI…thus wouldn’t you still be using a barrier even if something like RISUG was available? (That’s the general you, not you, personally).

        I’m trying to understand the logic, because it doesn’t make sense. As I said, I’m all for men having a private contraceptive option…I’m all for men having more options. What I do not understand is the argument that until it’s private, a man’s always in a powerless position (or less powerful position) during a sexual encounter…or that a man’s always in danger of a woman using his sperm.

        • My understanding of the word norm is that it is something that is expected by other or something that the majority do. Nowhere in my post did I intend to claim that women lying about contraception in order to get pregnant were a norm. I quoted the only “statistics” I could find and pointed out it’s unreliability, but stated that I thought that it wasn’t uncommon. To be clear, when I said not uncommon I mean that it happens and that it is not so seldom that it is ignorable (partly because the consequences are so big). I did not mean to imply that it is common as in a majority or as a norm. Apologies for my imprecise wording, I hope this clarifies a bit.

          Rape is not the norm either, but that still doesn’t mean that we should just break that down to a failure by the victim to place their trust correctly. Saying to people who argue against date-rape that it sounds like they at some level don’t actually trust men and wondering why they would put themselves in situation where they have sex with men in their apartments after a date would rightfully be considered incendiary and derailing statements.

          Whenever one is having sex while one doesn’t want children there is a theoretically danger that the partner (goes both ways of course – men have sabotaged BC without informing their partners) is deceptive about contraception. Most ignore this danger in their personal life as it otherwise would mean living a life without ability to trust someone else – a sorry way of life in my opinion. Having a private contraception option would reduce or elliminate this low risk without having to tackle the trust issue.

          And it is a low risk, but the consequences are dire for many. Putting a child into the world is a responsibility which shouldn’t be taken lightly and which should be a deliberate act in my view. The impact of an unwanted child is great both for the parent(s) and for the child.

          • Yeah again, I think we’re talking about slightly different things here…because I’m not talking about blaming someone when something like this happens. I’m talking about people who are so afraid it could happen, they bring up private contraception as something that’s closing some sort of huge power gap in heterosexual sexual encounters.

            “Having a private contraception option would reduce or elliminate this low risk without having to tackle the trust issue.”

            This, I think, is getting closer to what I’m trying to talk about. I can get behind what you’re saying here…I just also see others treating it, not as a small risk (well in that it doesn’t happen often)…but treat it as if it’s always a possibility, as if it’s a big risk (in terms of frequency).

            And again, if you are worried about this very low-risk problem, surely you’d be worried about the relatively high-risk possibility of STIs. That would mean using a barrier, and condoms are the most common barrier. So then we’d be back to square one, and the man’d be using a very public safe sex method.

            (Again, the you is general, not you personally)

            • Here’s the issue with that: It isn’t a very low possibility.

              Out of the 5 friends my age who have had kids ( mid 30′s) 2 have had questionable contraceptive failures. (The other 3 got married first.) One got drunk and told her boyfriend that she was on the pill when she didn’t (she also didn’t take the morning after pill nor have an abortion, and was joking about it at get togethers…) The other (a docotor, natch) swore that a medical condition was toying with her body chemistry (ditto on the backup)

              Neither relationship lasted long but neither of the men involved knew to be wary until far too late.

            • I guess until we have RISUG, condoms will be more important than ever. And flushing them. No matter if it hurts the feelings of the person one is with.

            • Unfortunately it’s not that easy. I’m not married and if a girl I was dating started with “You don’t need a condom” I could insist or leave.

              But what if it was a serious relationship or even a marriage?

              Men are left in a precarious position. A man insisting on condoms during marriage pretty much has signed his own divorce decree. Even if she has given hints to be wary… Where does that leave him? Where does this leave his other children if he has them?

              You talk about hurt feelings, what we should be talking about is ending relationships.. even marriages. The argument of “you have to be careful about who you sleep with” neglects the facts of this.

              Look, I’m not saying everyone woman would do this. I saying the consequences are serious even if he does the smart thing.

            • I guess that the conversations should be had well before marriage, honestly and over multiple occasions. Sex has to be talked about. If a woman isn’t willing to have a conversation with the person she is spending her reproductive years about pregnancy prevention, maybe she’s not the person to marry.

              I realize it may sound like I’m offering platitudes, but I’m serious as hell about the conversations. Like, sitting down and saying, I don’t ever want to have kids lady. I’m going to be taking control of my reproductive years now with condoms and in the future with a vasectomy etc. If you have a problem with condoms, we can’t continue.

              They should go to a therapist if they have kids and she’s got problems with it. I see no shame in confronting the problem and owning your position. These things (like money, like moving across the country

              I mean, I’d far rather know my partner was being honest with me about his desires (and me him) than have him not tell me and figure out weird ways to get the condom in there.

              And no, not every women (or man) would sabotage birth control. And it should absolutely be a crime to do so. I’ve been in a number of relationships with varying BC usage. Sometimes condoms, sometimes oral BC, sometimes both. Never really a big drama issue. The conversations have always been around “how do we not get pregnant or stis” and never “you don’t trust me” so I really have little experience with the stories here. I believe them, I’ve just not been there personally.

            • People change.

              This is the unsaid part of this conversation. Everybody says you need to pick wisely at the beginning…. but people change. A friend of mine told me about a book: “Intellectual Foreplay” by Eve Hogan which gets into how these questions need to be asked at the beginning of the relationship.

              But people change. And not everyone is going to tell you that they have changed before taking action.

              Planting everything on conversation and communication is a wonderful idea but woefully inadequate.

  6. wellokaythen says:

    When considering the side effects of a contraceptive method, I suggest comparing them to the side effects of being a parent, especially a parent when you don’t want to be, to put it in a larger perspective.

    And, just saying “lifestyle choice” does not really make much of an argument. As for birth control being part of a lifestyle choice, that may be literally true, but there are hundreds of individual choices that the rest of society has been compelled to pay for, many of which are now taken as entitlements.

    It’s just a lifestyle choice that someone buys a house he can’t afford, so why should the rest of society make sure he keeps his home when it goes into foreclosure? Buying a house is just a lifestyle thing, so there’s no need to keep home values up. The option of buying organic produce is really just an individual choice, so there’s no reason for the rest of society to accommodate it. The US military health care system provides Viagra at taxpayer expense. I’ve not heard much outrage at that public sponsorship of lifestyle choices.

    For that matter, marriage is itself simply a lifestyle choice. There’s no reason why there should be any public benefits at all from being married, because that would be subsidizing a lifestyle choice. Same with having children – no time off work for parents any more than non-parents. Kids are really just a silly choice.

    Why force people to pay for cars with seatbelts or pay for roads they don’t use? Driving is a lifestyle choice, so it’s unfair for the rest of us to pay taxes to pay for government agencies regulating car safety.

  7. FTL2.0 says:

    This was a sad sad comment thread. So ultimately you should be able to 100% trust your partner, if not don’t have sex. If you do 100% trust your partner and it turns out they lied, ultimately you should have known/had a feeling you couldn’t trust them, so you should have used your own protection or not had sex. Sounds alot like victim blaming to me.

    If you consent to sex on the basis people are using protection, and during/before sex people remove said protection without your knowledge (remove condom/barrier, stop taking pills) you are know having a form of sex you have not consented to.

    That is rape.

  8. Bag it. Bin it. Please don’t flush it… #condoms or any other nondegradable products.
    Cheers much.

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