5 'Real' Male Birth Control Methods That Don't Work

April 5th 2016

Tiernan Hebron

Humans are one of the only species on this planet that has sex for pleasure and not just for reproduction. Because of this unique trait, humans have been searching for methods that allow us to have sex without getting pregnant.

Birth control

Over the centuries there has been significant progress on this front. Yet with the exceptions of sterilization and condoms, most birth control methods — the pill, the shot, implants, and IUD’s — place the onus of not having a child on women.

Humans have been having sex for a long time and that sex (if heterosexual) involves both a man and a woman; so where are all the male birth control methods? In fact there are some, such as the shot, but most attempts at making male birth control methods have been failures. The following have all failed as male birth control methods.

1. Pulling out

‘Pulling out’ or the ‘withdrawal’ method is when the male partner withdrawals his penis from his female partner before he ejaculates, meaning no sperm are able to swim to their destination. This birth control method is one of the oldest forms of birth control besides abstinence.

Many people rely on this method because it doesn’t cost any money, doesn’t have any side effects, doesn’t dull sensation, and is easy to do. However, there are several problems with pulling out. The ability to pull out before ejaculating is entirely dependent on how well a man knows himself and his self-control. As well as a guy says he knows himself, there’s still plenty of room for human error. And even if the man is able to successfully pull out, precum, a bodily fluid that comes out of the penis during sex, is involuntary and can potentially carry live sperm.

Planned Parenthood estimates that when done correctly, 4 out of every 100 woman will become pregnant on the withdrawal method. However, when done incorrectly, 27 out of every 100 woman will become pregnant. So before you coitus interruptus, think about whether the benefits outweigh the consequences.

2. 'Dry orgasm' pill

There were two types of medication, a high blood pressure medication and a schizophrenia medication, which were also found to have male contraceptive effects. Men who took these medications were becoming infertile because the medication prevents the muscle that pushes sperm towards the urethra from contracting. This would mean that the man would ejaculate semen without sperm, hence the term ‘dry orgasm.’ Men would have to take the pill 3-4 hours before they know they are going to have sex, and the effects would wear off after 2 to 3 days.

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that this method would work every single time; there’s potential for it to have other effects on the male reproductive system that we are not sure about, and there’s no guarantee that the male orgasm would be as pleasurable. The probability of men wanting to take this pill is steadily decreasing.

3. Galactic Cap

The Galactic Cap is a type of condom that was invented to only cover the tip or head of the man’s penis. This idea was popular for a while, because it allowed for greater sensation than a normal condom and still prevented pregnancy. However, the product does not prevent STD’s, which is the major basis of a condom’s appeal. And according to it’s website, the cap fails as a contraceptive 15-18 percent of the time. Maybe just the tip isn’t enough after all.

4. Zavesca

Zavesca is a medication that is already used to treat type 1 Gaucher disease, a rare genetic disorder. Zavesca was also found to be a highly effective male contraceptive for male mice when tested in the laboratory. Unfortunately mice and humans have a few major differences and it was not found to be an effective birth control method for human men or any other type of mammal.

5. Gossypol

Gossypol is a substance that is found in the seeds, roots, and stem of the cotton plant, and according to researchers in China, it is a very potent male contraceptive. The problem is it’s too successful as a male contraceptive; it can cause infertility that is irreversible in up to 22 percent of men. Although the research for making Gossypol into a contraceptive was abandoned; the idea for it to be used as a non-surgical alternative to vasectomy is still in rotation.

What about the future?

But fret not, there is new research on the horizon promising a male contraceptive that is effective, long-term, and reversible.