Monday, May 4, 2009

The Male Pill

The Chinese are making great strides in contraception equality.

From The Independent:

Scientists believe they are one step closer to developing an effective male contraceptive jab after successfully carrying out the largest feasibility study to date.

Researchers at the National Research for Family Planning in Beijing injected 1,000 healthy, fertile male patients with a testosterone-based jab over a two-year period and found only 1 per cent went on to father a child. The men were all aged between 20 and 45 and had fathered at least one child in the two years before the testing began. They were also all involved with healthy female partners between the ages of 18 and 38 who had no reproductive problems of their own.

The trial was the largest effectiveness study of a testosterone-based male contraceptive ever undertaken. At the end of the two-year period only one in 100 men had fathered a child. No contraception is 100 per cent effective – 1 to 2 per cent of women still become pregnant while they are on the Pill – but the jab's success rate puts it on a par with the effectiveness of the female Pill or injections.

Dr Yi-Qun Gu, one of the researchers involved in the testing, said: "For couples who cannot or prefer not to use only female-oriented contraception, options have been limited to vasectomy, condom and withdrawal. Our study shows a male hormonal contraceptive regimen may be a potential, novel and workable alternative."

Read On
It's easy to understand why China would be interested in this new area of research: the one child policy. Although there are controversy and drawbacks to the program, the Chinese are committed to it.

I have to imagine that making the "pill" available to men, whether in the form of a pill or an injection, would make the whole endeavor of birth prevention more effective. There can be problems surrounding womens' health and taking the pill. If some women are unwilling or unable to take it, that presents problems in preventing babies. Having the pill only available to half the population certainly limits its overall effectiveness.

And in a way, I suppose a male pill helps balance out the equality in this whole realm. Women are the ones who have the children, so having men be able to bite the bullet on the contraceptive aspect seems reasonable to me.

I'm not sure how long this pill is going to take before it is safe to take. But I'm sure the Chinese will rush it along so that they can begin forcing their men take it.


Josh said...

I'm not quite sure what makes me feel this way - maybe it's my bad experiences with Chinese hospitals and medicine - but there is nothing you could do to persuade me to take this pill.

Thomas said...

From what I gather, the (female) contraceptive pill is not particularly popular in China, i.e. rate of usage is much smaller than in the US and Europe.

Mark said...

I agree with you, Josh. I'm not taking this thing any time soon.

From my experiences, you're right, Thomas. There is not a birth-control pill culture in China like there is in the West. That's not to say that no girl takes it, but it's nowhere near as common as it is the West.

pug ster said...

I have to say that it is good that the Chinese is becoming innovative in some way.