Sunday, April 19, 2009
Birth Control for Men?
When I spoke to my gyno about the HPV vaccine (Gardasil), she told me lots of men have HPV, yet it's a woman's problem, just like birth control. She was subtly mocking fact that our society deems it a woman's job to take care of her sexual and reproductive health options. This was right when my feminism was getting into full swing, and I remember thinking to myself something like "heck yes!"
These days, Merck, the company that makes Gardasil, has asked the FDA to approve the HPV vaccine for boys and young men. Meanwhile, there is talk of a male hormonal birth control pill.
I asked my boyfriend what he thought about this and his answer really got me thinking. I'm on hormonal birth control now (I love it!), and we've talked about couples splitting the cost (even though my mom covers the cost now). I showed him this post from Erica over at NYC Unrated and Unfiltered, which wonders if women enjoy being in control of their own BC regimens. My boyfriend took issue with the way Erica gets nervous about male BC. He pointed out that currently, birth control requires men in heterosexual relationships to trust their girlfriends to take the pill just as much as it would take women to trust men if this came to fruition.
My initial reaction was that there are more consequences for a woman in the case of a pregnancy - after all, she is the one who carries the child if they decide to have it. But after we discussed it further, I realized that he had a valid point - he trusts me a lot to believe that I'm taking my pill every day. Me getting pregnant would greatly affect his life too - not just mine and my body.
My boyfriend is a really remarkable guy, and I'm sure not all men have this same outlook. But by his logic, I can't imagine any decent man stopping taking his BC pill (if this became a reality) - since I can't imagine stopping taking my own pill. The risk would be too great for me to take. I assume that any thoughtful man would see those risks in a similar way - even if it wouldn't directly affect his body, it could potentially affect the rest of his life.
All this thinking leads me to conclude that male birth control could be kind of cool. Of course, condoms are still awesome, and I'm not sure I'd believe a guy who told me he was on birth control right off the bat, but I think it could a really good thing in certain situations for certain couples. There are already a ton of contraceptive options for women, I think it'd be a good thing for men to have some choices too.