Men may soon be taking birth control

by Marissa Ochoa

“Are you on the pill?“ is a phrase that only women are asked. What would happen if the roles reversed and instead of men asking women about birth control it was the exact opposite? The idea seems almost absurd, but it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds.

More than 40 years after oral contraceptives hit the market for women, male birth control may soon become the next preventer of pregnancies. Scientists at the National Autonomous University of Mexico are working to create birth control that men will be able to take to avoid unwanted pregnancies. However, temporary side effects of the drug will be the same as other birth controls, including dizziness, nausea, weight gain, acne and others. Oncologist James Bradner, who is also working on creating male birth control, stated that after numerous experiments he noticed how temporary effects dissipated and hormones began to level off after discontinuing use of the drug.

It seems this new contraceptive would transfer responsibility to men when it comes to unprotected intercourse. Unplanned pregnancies wouldn’t weigh just on women because the responsibility to be on the pill will be more evenly distributed between the sexes. The apparent gender discrimination regarding birth control would finally be put away for good. Despite the work that still needs to be done, it will be no surprise if male birth control starts hitting pharmacies in the near future.

However, the question is not when and where it will be available, but whether or not men will take on the responsibility. Women would easily share the burden of oral contraceptives with men, but will it gain popularity the way female birth control did? Two years after oral contraceptives first came out in 1960, they reached about 1.2 million users. However, the idea of men reaching those same numbers seems to be too lofty of a goal.

“Up to this point the women have had to accept the responsibility far more than the men,” KCR radio host Joe Shrin said. “Women have also had to deal with the consequences more. Men need to take birth control a lot more seriously than they seem to. There needs to be equal responsibility, and men need to ‘man up’ a lot better.”

Still, when it comes to pregnancies, society isn’t exactly promoting equal responsibility.

“Just like how birth control messes with our system, I feel like (men) wouldn’t want to mess with any of their systems, so they are like, ‘No, why do I have to go through it when a girl can go through it?’” San Diego State student Natalie Rubalcaba said.

It’s no wonder media hasn’t picked up on such a groundbreaking story.  Our society is so based off of catering to men that a male contraceptive seems like the last thing it would want to promote. Shrin also said a male birth control would be embarrassing to talk about with other men, which could factor into why it hasn’t gotten much attention.

As young adults, being extra careful when it comes to sex seems to be everyone’s goal, yet relying on a man to take birth control might end up being as ineffective as a broken condom.  If they did agree on using birth control, how reliable will they be at keeping up with it? College-age boys in general have a lot less to deal with compared to women, so throwing in birth control may seem like an unnecessary responsibility that most boys will forget about. However, Oren Rosenberg, a male SDSU student, believes men are adaptable and would eventually get used to the routine.

In this day and age, when TV has glamorized teenage pregnancies, any precaution young adults can take would seem like a godsend, but male birth control doesn’t seem to have such a promising future. This isn’t to say men are incapable of remembering one pill every day, but that they don’t necessarily understand how important it is.  Men are not the ones who will have to carry a child for nine months, so the threat of a pregnancy isn’t as daunting to them if they forget to take the pill. Yes, men are still obligated to support a child financially and so on, but the physical pains and judgmental stares from strangers that women experience during pregnancies are key motivators driving the importance of using contraceptives. If men don’t have such motivators, why would they even bother taking the pill?