Male Birth Control: What Are the Options? – Healthline

Despite scientific advances, birth control options for men remain limited to condoms or vasectomy. There are also wing-and-a-prayer options such as pulling out (withdrawal) and outercourse.
Since half of all U.S. pregnancies are unintended, there seems to be a real need for additional family planning methods that don’t rely solely on women. Many men express a desire to share this responsibility equally with their female partners. Even so, the gap in options is large.
Science has tried to fill the void, but multiple research studies have started and stopped over the course of many years. Some potential male birth control options are in the pipeline, but we don’t know when they’ll hit the market.
For now, the birth control methods men have used for decades will have to suffice.
In this article we’ll go over options men can use to prevent unintended pregnancy, and we’ll let you know what may be coming in the future.
Condoms are a type of barrier birth control. To prevent pregnancy, a condom is placed onto an erect penis and worn during vaginal intercourse. Condoms work by stopping semen from entering the vaginal canal, so an egg can’t be fertilized.
Condoms are usually made from latex or polyurethane. They may also be made from lamb membrane called lambskin.
Condoms come in various sizes and textures. Some are lubricated to make penetration easier and reduce friction, which can cause a condom to tear. Others are coated with spermicide for added protection against pregnancy.
Condoms vary in price, based on the brand you’re buying and the retailer you’re shopping from. In general, a 24-count box of condoms will cost around $15.
Vasectomy, also known as male sterilization, is a surgical procedure designed to be permanent birth control.
During a vasectomy, your surgeon will divide and close off the ends of the tubes that transport sperm (the vas deferens). Since this stops sperm from entering seminal fluid, your ejaculate will not be able to inseminate your partner.
Conventional vasectomies are outpatient procedures. Since general anesthesia is not used, you’ll be awake during a vasectomy. Here’s how the procedure goes:
Recovery from a vasectomy usually takes about a week. During that time, you should avoid sexual activity and physical activities such as heavy lifting.
Many insurance plans, including Medicaid, cover the cost of vasectomy. Without insurance, you can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $3,000 for this procedure.
Like conventional vasectomy, no-scalpel vasectomy is a permanent form of male birth control. It has the same success rate for preventing pregnancy. It’s also done as an outpatient procedure without general anesthesia.
Many insurance plans, including Medicaid, cover the cost of vasectomy. Without insurance, you can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $3,000 for this procedure.
You can buy condoms at pharmacies and from online retailers.
Vasectomies are performed by specialists called urologists. You can find a urologist through the Urology Care Foundation.
If you have health insurance, talk with your doctor about the cost you can expect to pay for a vasectomy.
If you qualify for Medicaid, the cost of a vasectomy will be covered.
There are also low cost or free clinics, such as those run by Planned Parenthood, where you may be able to get a free or inexpensive vasectomy.
Research exists on hormonal forms of birth control for men, including a daily pill, but currently there’s no male birth control pill available for men to take. There are several reasons for this.
“Studies on a male pill started decades ago, but there were lots of hurdles. Researchers had to solve questions like how to make modes of delivery that last a long time. Another hurdle was how to define the level of sperm production that constitutes sterility, if it doesn’t go down to zero,” says Logan Nickels, PhD, research director for the Male Contraceptive Initiative.
In addition to scientific concerns, practical issues have hampered innovation and production.
“A lot of the stalling of these early studies was caused by an inability to find a pharmaceutical partner to help finance the research. Lots of pharmaceutical companies in the early 2000s didn’t want to get involved with new birth control methods because they were concerned about litigation.
“Large pharmaceutical companies moved to a business model where smaller startups do the risky stuff and they will provide financing later on. This small space isn’t at that point yet. So no products have crossed that chasm and don’t have the financing. Even so, I’m optimistic that a male pill will be produced within the next 10 years,” Nickels adds.
Nickels suggests keeping an eye on the following clinical trials on male birth control pills:
If you’re a trans man with ovaries and a uterus, you can get pregnant, even if you’re taking testosterone.
Testosterone decreases pregnancy risk but doesn’t eliminate it.
If you wish to eliminate your risk of getting pregnant, you can use various forms of birth control, such as an intrauterine device (IUD) or a female condom, or your partner can use a male condom.
It can be challenging to find a doctor who understands the needs and concerns you may have about reproductive health. It’s not unusual for trans men and trans women to face discrimination in healthcare settings. To find a medical professional you can trust, try searching these databases:
Just as women have, men will gravitate toward different forms of birth control once enough options are available.
“Many men say they want a daily pill, but that may be because it’s what they’re familiar with, based on the current birth control type used by many women,” says Nickels.
Other male birth control options currently being studied include:
Currently, the only male birth control options are condoms and vasectomy. Men can also use behaviors, such as outercourse, to reduce the risk of pregnancy.
No male birth control pill is currently available. Research is being done on male birth control options such as a daily pill, an injected nonhormonal gel, and a topical hormonal gel.
Last medically reviewed on June 1, 2021
Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.
Current Version
Jun 1, 2021
Written By
Corey Whelan
Edited By
Debbie Nurmi
Medically Reviewed By
Kevin Martinez, MD
Copy Edited By
Jill Campbell
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