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Women weigh in on the problem with male birth control

Charlotte Hilton Andersen is the author of the book The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything and runs the popular health and fitness website of the same name, where she tries out a new workout every month, specializing...

Why male birth control isn't the game-changer many think it is

Taking birth control in any form isn't fun for anyone. Yet we all do it because having control over our reproductive system gives us a level of freedom that women have never had before. But what if there was a safe, non-hormonal birth control option for men?

The internet was all abuzz with the announcement last week of a hormone-free, condomless birth control for men called Vasagel. Unfortunately, due to funding, logistics and science, this "temporary vasectomy" seems to be unlikely to happen, at least anytime soon. But it got me thinking: What would it mean for women if the men got to take care of the birth control for a change?

In an informal poll of my friends (read: I threw it out on Facebook), I asked the women if they would want their men to take it and I asked the men if they'd be on board. Here's what I learned:

1. Male birth control would not eliminate the need for female birth control, or really even reduce it much.

Women, it turns out, use birth control for many reasons beyond controlling births. We use it to help balance out wacky hormones, prevent acne, lower the risk of ovarian cancer, manage conditions like PMDD or PCOS, regulate menstrual cycles or control an overzealous uterus that wants to stage a production of Carrie every month. Out of over 60 responses to my question, the vast majority of women said they'd keep using their birth control regardless of what their man did and this was the number one reason given:

"No matter what I'd still have to take it for other health-related reasons." — Adrianne

2. Lots of women do not want to give up control over the baby-making process.

Let's be honest: Any bun-baking is going to be done in our oven and even with the most supportive partner we're still doing all the heavy lifting (literally). So you can't blame a lady for wanting to keep control over what happens in her body. Plus, two times the birth control equals double the protection.

"I'd still take it. It's my body and my responsibility. I'd have a hard time handing that responsibility to someone else. As a single person in this day and age, I can't even believe how many people want to forgo condoms." — Mel

"It's my body and the consequences of pregnancy are mine to deal with. Even the best meaning person could forget and then I'd be stuck. Not worth the risk." — Lisa

3. There are trust issues.

My male friends did not like this part one bit but there are a lot of ladies who are dubious about the XY's ability to stay on top of birth control. The women say they don't trust them to remember, to use it correctly and even to be honest about using it. (In the dudes' defense, they don't have a monthly reminder like we do.) 

"I don't think I would trust my hubby to remember to take it. He can't even remember to take his multivitamin even with me reminding him every morning." — Jess

4. All the while, men claim they would totally use this.

Every man I asked said he would be all for this. Some for the obvious reasons that they don't want to be a daddy until they want to be a daddy, but many also said they wished they could spare their wives/girlfriends the side effects of birth control and the pain of using it. Not only that but they were adamant that they could be trusted to use it properly. (Although there were a lot of requests to make it taste like chocolate and possibly be chewable, which, you know, is cool. I kinda wish our BC pills tasted as good as they look. C'mon sugar pills?)

"I'd do it, frankly I think it's about time." — Blake

5. Women want it so their sons can have it.

Many women would like to see this happen not necessarily for themselves but as a way to protect the next generation. Teenage boys + hormones + an outsized sense of invincibility + a universal hatred of condoms = many a worried mama.

"As a mother of boys I'll admit I often wish for male birth control. Sex outside of marriage is the last thing I want them to do, but if they choose to, I'd like that extra level of protection." — Beth

If there was a safe, easy way for your man to take care of it, would you keep using your current birth control?

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