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BBC Radio Scotland hears different opinions
"Men and women give their views on the male pill"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 23 February, 2000, 09:02 GMT
Most men 'would take the pill'

Contraceptive pill
There may soon be a contraceptive pill for men


Two-thirds of men say they would use a male pill if it were available, according to an international survey.

Nearly all the women questioned said they would trust their partner to take it.

New developments taking place in hormonal methods of contraception for men make it likely that a male pill will be available within the next five to 10 years.


The majority of men felt that responsibility for contraception falls too much on women and we found that the strongest incentive for men to use the pill would be their partners' wishes
Dr Richard Anderson, Medical Research Council, Edinburgh
In anticipation of a male contraceptive pill, research teams from Edinburgh, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Cape Town carried out two surveys among nearly 4,000 men and women in the four cities to determine:

  • Would men use such hormonal methods of contraception?
  • Would women trust their partners to take it?
Among the 2,000 men questioned, the majority in all centres would welcome a new method and two-thirds said they would use it if it were available.

There were cultural differences in acceptability but even in the most conservative centre (Hong Kong), nearly half would use it.

The survey also demonstrated that men were keen to have a greater involvement in the responsibility for contraception and took into account their partner's needs.

Dr Richard Anderson, clinical scientist at the MRC Reproductive Biology Unit in Edinburgh, said: "The majority of men felt that responsibility for contraception falls too much on women and we found that the strongest incentive for men to use the pill would be their partners' wishes."

Lack of trust

While men may be willing to use a pill, many critics of the concept have suggested that women would not trust their partners to take it reliably.

For this reason 2,000 women in the same centres were asked their views of the male pill. More than 80% were in favour.

Three-quarters of Scottish, Chinese and white South African women thought that men would be prepared to use the method and even in the more conservative black and mixed race South African population, 40% agreed their partners would probably use it.

Only 2% said they would not trust their partners to take it.

Three-month time lapse

Dr Anderson said: "The idea of hormonal contraception for men appears to be extremely popular among women and this survey should dispel once and for all the myth that women would not trust their partners to use a male pill."

The surveys did reveal some concerns, with men in all the centres viewing a three-month time lapse before a method became effective as a disadvantage.


I do agree with the women who say that even if a man says he is willing to use a pill, he would not be as strongly motivated as a woman to take it every single day because he does not carry the baby
Professor John Guillebaud, Margaret Pyke Centre, London
A minority of others expressed some fears that a hormonal method might lessen masculinity or affect sexual desire or satisfaction.

The researchers concluded that although the answers to a survey of a hypothetical methods will not accurately predict, in practice, how many couples will use male contraception, it demonstrates that a male pill would be the choice for a significant number of couples throughout the world.

Long-term relationship

John Guillebaud, professor in family planning and reproductive health at Margaret Pyke Centre, London, said a male pill would be a good option for a couple in a long-term trusting relationship.

But he added: "I do agree with the women who say that even if a man says he is willing to use a pill, he would not be as strongly motivated as a woman to take it every single day because he does not carry the baby.

"The ideal would be an implant or injection, rather than a tablet - a form of 'forgettable' contraception."

The findings are published in Human Reproduction, the journal of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.

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See also:
05 Jan 00 |  Health
Male pill moves closer
07 Jan 99 |  Health
A short history of the pill
20 Jan 99 |  Health
Chemical tricksters may revolutionise contraception
12 Apr 99 |  Health
Male pill breakthrough
12 Apr 99 |  Health
Male pill success

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