Men don't want to test the male pill - and can you blame them?
Scientists are struggling to find men to take part in the trial of a new male contraceptive.
Dr Pierre-Marc Bouloux from the Royal Free Hospital in London began recruiting men for the trial in February but still does not have enough. The knee-jerk reaction has been to blame men for their irresponsibility and lack of interest in sensible contraception but the real reasons may be rather more practical.
This particular contraceptive involves an implant underneath the skin topped up with regular injections to reduce testosterone. The implant slowly releases progestin into the bloodstream which stops the production of hormones in the pituitary gland.
Dr Bouloux told the BBC that the implant was 'virtually free' of side-effects. But what does virtually mean? The side-effects of the female contraceptive are now well known. They weren't when the pill was introduced 40 years ago. Men are understandably hesitant.
One argument that is often deployed against the male pill is that men couldn't be relied on to take it it and would lie about it - male irresponsibility, again - but Mary Boyle, a clinical psychologist at the University of East London, points out that there is more to it than that. 'When the first male pill health scare comes - as it will,' she says. 'What arguments are going to be used to persuade men to stay on it? Women can avoid pregnancy by being on the pill, but that argument doesn't wash with men.'
Jim Pollard, editor of malehealth said: 'the problems with recruiting for this trial demonstrate the need for a sensible debate around the male pill. Just throwing our arms up in the air and saying men can't be trusted misses a lot of important issues — side-effects, long term effects on hormones, the incovenience of regular injections etc.
'A lot of women have seen their health suffer as a result of taking the pill. Giving men a drug that means a lot of them suffer too is an odd idea of equality and one that could cost society and the NHS dear.'
The Family Planning Association reckon men will want to take a male pill once it's available. We need to make sure it is the right one and a safe one.
Would you take a male hormonal contraceptive - a pill, injections?
Page created on May 24th, 2004
Page updated on January 16th, 2010