Birth Control Pills for Men: Coming Soon?

After more than 40 years of research, scientists at the University of Kansas Medical Center may have devised a new form of birth control: a non-hormonal pill for men. Joseph Tash, a reproductive biologist, has been studying the problem since the 1960s. As he told the Kansas State Collegian, “I felt it was one-sided, and if I could do something to develop a male pill that would help the situation I would. I’ve been working on it since.”

In the last decade, Tash has made some exciting breakthroughs. He’s tried a variety of approaches, from preventing sperm from being able to reach the egg, to completely halting the production of sperm. And thanks to H2-gamendazole, a substance derived from an anti-cancer drug, they may have finally found something that works safely and reversibly.

There have been plenty of false starts with hormonal medications for men, which for some reason simply aren’t as effective as they are in women. They were effective for some men, but not others, and researchers still haven’t quite figured out why. There’s also the issue of unintended side effects, since hormones affect multiple systems throughout the body.

Gamendazole, on the other hand, targets only the late stages of sperm production. It’s safer and has fewer side effects than hormonal contraception – potentially making it a better option for couples if the woman experiences side effects from birth control pills, or is unable to take them for medical reasons.

The drug isn’t ready to go on the market yet. It still needs to get FDA approval for human trials. Tash is continuing his research to see if there are any potential side effects, and is getting together the data necessary to demonstrate to the FDA that it doesn’t pose a safety risk. He’s hoping to be able to test the drug in humans within the next few years.

Of course, this raises the question: how will the anti-contraception crowd react when male contraceptive pills hit the shelves? Satirist Stephen Colbert is already prepared for that possibility. Taking a dig at some of the recent anti-abortion legislation being proposed by conservatives across the US, he proposes “transurethral ultrasounds” for all men considering taking the pill. He describes his idea in the video below:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Tip/Wag – Kansas’ Male Birth Control Pill & New York’s Babyccino
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive


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Photo credit: Thinkstock


Aaron S.
Aaron S.5 years ago

I see some of the previous comments on this page from women, and honestly, I have to laugh. Really? You wouldn't "trust a man to take birth control?" Are you out of your minds? With the way the legal system is set up to screw any man who gets a woman pregnant regardless of his intentions or desires, you really think men would either forget or lie to you about it? I promise you that's not the case. Unlike for women who, in record numbers, seem to "mistakenly forget" to take the pill when she decides it's time to snare him and his wallet.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

It would be AMAZING, but Im afraid the MACHO men we have created wont buy into it. Its the "womans" problem. That is how they see it. The woman has to prevent it. Some guys even feel this way about condoms. A GREAT way to get men interested in preventing pregnancies is to truly crack down on dead beat dads. Jail time, late fees for child support, community service, whatever punishment that is legal. Then they will see that we are SERIOUS

Magdalen B.
Magdalen B5 years ago

"Oh it's all right. Don't worry. I'm on the pill." Yeah right!

Pierre B.
Pierre Blanchard5 years ago

It is time that birth control for men becomes available, other than the conventional method. Some of you mentioned vasectomy and tubal ligation, but those are more radical and permanent solutions. They are okay if you chose not to have further children. Condoms are not always fun and can be a mood breaker, yet necessary! The variety of pills available that women take may be a good solution but hormonal treatment do not always agree with them and they are the one playing with their health to make sure they do not get pregnant. We, as a society, have put a lot of pressure on them to control the situation! Is it fair? No, I do not think it is! Let's remember that it takes two to tango!
It 2012, and it is time for the male gender to take more responsibilities for their own actions. Sadly, I can see the skepticism in women trusting that a man will actually take it on a daily basis… If you trust your partner, and you know that is a good man, please don’t be doubtful. There are actually stand up individual willing to share the responsibility!

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener5 years ago

Hmmm, they're not the ones who end up having a bun in their oven.... so am not sure how it actually might work on the majority of men, incapable of taking responsibility for their actions?

Tahni W5 years ago

I don't dislike men and I don't want to generalize....BUT, how many of us women would actually, really, completely trust a grown man to start remembering to take his birth control pill every day?
My first husband was a documented psychopath so maybe he doesn't count...

But I can't trust my now husband to remember to put down the toilet seat. He loses his glasses at least three times a day. He can't remember from one day to the next where he puts his things. I've got a bottle of vitamins in the cupboard that he wanted to take every day that's still full two years after I bought it.
He has so many little projects going around the house that he mostly just flits from one to the other without getting any of them done...
I love him, but, I don't think he could remember, to save his life, to take his birth control every day.

Melissa Cadle
Melissa Cadle5 years ago

Men need some form besides a condom!

Lucy H.
Lucy E5 years ago

I know many couples where the man is on medication and the only reason he gets his medication every day is because his female partner makes sure he takes them. Left to his own devices, the pills sit in a bottle on the shelf.

I can only hope that this is an older generation problem - but if it's not, it means you can give the men birth control pills but good luck getting them to actually take the pills.

Anand YNI
Anand Y N I5 years ago

Good news!

But the moor point is whether these selfish buggers ever accept it especially in the third world countries?

Carolyn M.
Carolyn M5 years ago

vasectomies are the best, as are tubal ligations.

However, I think it would be great for a man to have the same flexible birth control that we have. He might want to have children later in life when he's settled and stable. If he's on the pill, so to speak, he has the option of future fatherhood without minor surgery (twice)

This could also be great for married couples who absolutely do not want children yet. Having both spouses on the pill ought to pretty much guarantee no surprises.