Can we trust men on the admin of birth control?

Anyone who’s ever taken contraceptive pills knows there’s a lot of admin involved. From making doctors appointments to renewing your prescription, to simply remembering to take it at the same time every day. It’s a lot of work. But, we do it because we understand the possible consequences of having sex without proper birth control. Sure, it takes two to tango but only people who are able to bear children have to remember these steps.

In recent months, pharmacologists have made strides to introduce a form of birth control for men. Either as a pill or a hormonal gel. The question is: can we trust men to adhere to the admin that we have been socially conditioned to from a young age? For instance, will they remember to apply this gel properly or take their pills regularly? They have never had to before. And if they don’t, it is not them who will deal with the consequence of being pregnant.

Can women trust men on contraception?

I spoke to some women, all of whom expressed concerns regarding men taking birth control instead of women.

One girl found she couldn’t be on birth control herself due to its intense and debilitating reaction with her body. This meant that her only source of contraception would be condoms or a male contraceptives that her partner could take instead of her. “An old boyfriend saw what I went through and wished that he could take it instead. I think he did mean it,” she said. She also said she believes “boyfriends or partners would do it as they would have a motivation to support their girlfriends or partners because they will have some sort of commitment to it”. 

Another girl I spoke to on Twitter agreed with this sentiment. She suggested she would trust a boyfriend/partner to take a male contraceptive for the sake of their long-term relationship. 

Another girl said that she’d trust partners to take pills properly, but wouldn’t stop taking her own, to be safe. She brought up stealthing during our conversation. This describes the phenomenon of a man taking off a condom during sex without notifying his partner. She asked, “in an age where we can’t even trust guys to keep a condom on for the short duration of sex, how can we trust them to take contraception properly over a long period of time?” 

“There are too many guys who don’t understand the consequences of not using contraception – especially because they usually don’t have to deal with them – and see it as more of a hindrance to having a good time. For male birth control to work, there needs to be a cultural shift of ideas where men take equal responsibility for children/pregnancy rather than the stereotype of that being just the woman’s role.” 

It’s not the invention itself that needs to chang

Most of the women I spoke to said that they wouldn’t stop taking their own birth control even if a partner was trusted to take theirs. This is something I personally agree with too, calling into question the effectiveness of introducing a male contraceptive in the first place. 

It’s clear that we have a long road to go before a male contraceptive hits the mainstream and becomes the norm. It’s not the invention itself that needs to change but the culture surrounding consensual sex between men and women where the burden is placed on the woman to keep herself from getting pregnant.

No matter what your relationship (or lack thereof) is to your sexual partner, both parties are culpable in the act and whatever consequences may arise from it. We’re all in this together, after all. 

Michele Theil is news editor at London Student and studies Journalism at City, University of London.

Photo credit: Ceridwen, under Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 France (CC BY-SA 2.0 FR), with modifications.

Would you like to write a reply? Email the opinion editor at david.dahlborn.13 [at] ucl.ac.uk


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