What Is Male Birth Control?


When many of us think about birth control, it’s probably primarily birth control options for women that come to mind. But did you know that researchers have been working on a male birth control pill for decades? And a recent clinical study has shown promising results for the future of a male birth control pill. 

While there isn’t a male birth control pill, other types of effective birth control for men are available. This article will discuss the different options, advantages, disadvantages, and coso, a contraceptive device regarded as the future of birth control for men. 

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What Is Male Birth Control?

Birth control for men are methods that can be used to prevent pregnancy during sexual activity. Various options range from temporary and non-invasive, such as a condom, to a vasectomy, the only form of permanent male birth control.

How Does Birth Control for Men Work?

Ultimately, all forms of male birth control work by preventing sperm from entering a vagina. The proper use of contraception ensures that no sperm from a man’s ejaculate reaches the womb to fertilize an egg. 

Is Male Birth Control Effective?

Different male birth control options have different success rates. Using birth control correctly or utilizing more than one type of contraception can significantly reduce the chances of an accidental pregnancy. 

Perfect vs. Typical Use of Birth Control

It’s important to note that the success of birth control is based on perfect use. Perfect use describes how effective contraception is when used precisely as instructed, every time. Whereas typical use is how effective birth control is when it’s only used perfectly sometimes. Even with perfect usage, no form of contraception is 100% effective.  

The 4 Most Common Male Birth Control Options

1. Condoms

Condoms are considered one of the most accessible forms of birth control for men. They’re a temporary solution and are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. In addition, they also protect you and your partner from sexually transmitted infections, which isn’t possible with any other form of contraception. 

However, the effectiveness of condoms drops down to around 85% when it comes to typical use. 

To increase the chances of your condom preventing pregnancy successfully, you should: 

  • Stick to latex or polyurethane condoms that have been kept in a cool and dry place. Condoms that are made with other materials such as lambskin may not be as effective at preventing the transmission of STIs
  • Avoid storing your condoms in your wallet as this could damage them
  • Ensure that your condom is in date (the expiration date is on the wrapper)
  • Use water or silicone-based lubricants as oil-based lubricants can damage the condom

2. Spermicide

Often utilized as additional protection, spermicide is a substance that kills sperm. When used as the only form of contraception and with typical use, spermicide has around an 80% effectiveness rate. Therefore, it’s most successful when combined with another form of birth control, such as a condom. 

3. Withdrawal 

Sometimes referred to as ‘pulling out’ or ‘coitus interruptus,’ withdrawal is one of the oldest forms of birth control. It is also one of the least effective. Essentially, the penis is pulled out of the vagina before ejaculation. However, this method only works if executed perfectly. It can be challenging to time it right and pull out quickly enough. For those with limited sexual experience, this can be difficult to do. The withdrawal method is estimated to be around 78% effective. 

4. Vasectomy

A vasectomy is the most effective and permanent of all the male birth control options. Also referred to as male sterilization, a vasectomy is a surgery in which a doctor cuts and seals the tubes that sperm passes through to reach the testicles. Therefore, anyone getting a vasectomy should ensure they don’t wish to father a child in the future.

The outpatient procedure takes 15-30 minutes and only uses a local anesthetic, so you’ll be able to go home the same day. 

Is There a Male Birth Control Pill?

As mentioned above, there isn’t currently a male birth control pill available. However, there may be at least one becoming available in the next few years. Researchers have been working on a non-hormonal male birth control pill targeting a retinoic acid receptor alpha (RAR-α) protein. This protein binds retinoic acid, a form of vitamin A, which plays a role in sperm formation. By investigating the structural makeup of retinoic acid receptor alpha (RAR-α), researchers have reduced sperm count in animal trials.

So far, it has been tested on mice and shown to be 99% effective, and human clinical trials will begin at the end of 2022. 

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Coso Contraception: The Future of Birth Control for Men?

German designer, Rebecca Weiss, has developed coso, a form of contraception based on ultrasound technology. While currently only in concept design and a long way from clinical trials, the device has already won a James Dyson award and could be the future of male birth control. 

Coso contraception is a long way from being used, but in theory, ​​coso would use ultrasound to immobilize sperm, temporarily inhibiting the production of new sperm. Thereby preventing sperm from reaching a woman’s egg. It should be effective for up to two months at a time. 

To set up coso, the user would fill the device with water, which would heat up, before the user would sit with their testicles dipped into the water. An accompanying coso app would tell you when the correct amount of time has passed and sperm have been immobilized. 

If you would like to discuss male birth control options and the right choice for you, consider speaking with a specialized men’s health physician. 

Here at Opt Health, we have specialized men’s health doctors who are on hand 24/7 and can provide treatment and test results from the comfort of your home. We use preventative medicine to help you feel like you again. 

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or want to book an appointment.

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