Gaming Editory Louis Wright explores the historical inequality behind contraception, and what a new breakthrough for male birth control could mean
First developed in 3000 BCE when King Minos of Crete used a goat’s bladder, condoms have stood steadfast as the premiere form of male contraception ever since. It is therefore an insight into society’s perception of birth control that in the 5000 years since there have been countless breakthroughs made developing women’s birth control, and yet, still, the only contraceptive men acknowledge is the condom.
The development of the first on-demand male contraceptive may be set to change this standard. A recent study by ‘nature communications’ has resulted in the development of an experimental drug that prevents men from producing sperm that is capable of causing pregnancies. Soluble adenylyl cyclase (sAC) is an enzyme that is used by sperm cells to aid in movement. Therefore by denaturing and breaking down this enzyme within the cells, the drug prevents sperm from moving while still allowing for the cells to be produced.
However the question has to be posed as to why it has taken until 2023 for a true male contraceptive to be developed. Potential options for a man-equivalent to ‘the pill’ have been previously explored. In the 1960s it was discovered that the schizophrenia drug Thioridazine resulted in ‘dry’ orgasms, therefore having the potential to be used as a ‘clean sheet’ contraceptive due to the lack of sperm being produced.
Drugs of this nature have attempted to get funding time and time again but have continuously been shot down due to a variety of reasons. The main reason for this was that the proposed side effects of these drugs were deemed unacceptable. These side effects included mood swings, headaches, and nausea – unsurprisingly all side effects associated with female birth control.
As such the examined reasoning for the lack of development in male contraceptives since the inception of the condom 5000 years ago can be put down to the perceived societal standards linking sex and birth control. If somebody is born with the ability to develop a baby within themselves and give birth to it, then the expectation is that it is their responsibility to limit this ability in themselves.
Male contraceptives have been deemed as emasculating and unnecessary in prior research on the subject. However, as far as the evidence collected during these attempts at the development of a better birth control for men is concerned, it is an avenue that should be explored for the betterment of safe sex and a more equalised perception of expected gender roles in society.
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