Recently in SCIENCE there has been a reported study in Australia, where scientists believe they may have found a reversible way of stopping sperm getting into the ejaculate, without affecting sexual function.
Dr Ventura told the BBC: "The sperm stay in the storage site so when the mice ejaculate there's no sperm and they are infertile...It is readily reversible and the sperm are unaffected, but we need to show we can do this pharmacologically, probably with two drugs."
The aim and significance of the study, published here, shows the differing approach taken in developing the male pill: "The search for a viable male contraceptive target has been a medical challenge for many years. Most strategies have focused on hormonal or germ-line strategies to produce dysfunctional sperm that are incapable of fertilization. The problem with such approaches is that they have intolerable side effects such as affecting male sexual activity or causing long-term irreversible effects on fertility. In addition, some strategies may transmit detrimental changes to future offspring. This manuscript describes a male contraceptive target within the autonomic nervous system, which would not affect the long-term viability of sperm nor the sexual or general health of males. In addition, due to the nature of the target, the contraceptive has the potential to be orally administered."
Back in 2011 I wrote about the various forms of contraception for men that were being researched and the common theme was something that would not have an affect on male sexual activity, long term irreversible side effects on fertility and, ideally, no hormones would be tinkered with.
Hindsight is 20:20 and it would be possibly simply mean and bitter to sigh and wish such things had been taken into account with the development of today's contraceptive pill.
instead of collectively tutting saying men won't remember to take a pill on a regular basis, we should note this opens up a new conversation.
However, while their fertility and sex drive weren't taken so much into account, women have always apparently be relied on to take the pill on a regular basis (unless they're being nefarious and baby crazy and just trying to TRAP YOU, MAN). in 2011 an Angela Ruskin University survey revealed half of the women who took part would not trust a man to take the male pill reliably.
A quick Google (my research is, as ever, boundless) of 'Whose responsibility is contraception?' reveals that, because they have the most choice - pill, barrier method, implant, coil, injection, the responsibility lies with the women.
However, perhaps instead of collectively tutting and rolling our eyes saying men won't remember to take a pill on a regular basis, we should note this opens up a new conversation. Soon the question "are you on the pill" could come from a woman's lips. A male pill could create a new consciousness of contraceptive responsibility and open up a new more level conversation concerning contraception.
So I shan't be bitter that a male pill does not hail a new era of men spending years trying to find a pill to suit them and in the meantime experiencing alarming, body changing side effects. I shall hail in a new era of consent and contraception.