Dear Dr. Kate: Birth Control for Him?

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Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City and she answers your medical questions here once a week. To ask her your own question, click here.

Dear Dr. Kate,

My boyfriend and I have been together for six months now, and we are thinking of becoming sexually active. But we are concerned about an unwanted pregnancy. I am currently taking oral birth control. I was wondering if there is a male contraceptive besides condoms? I am allergic to latex, therefore I can’t use condoms. Are there any latex-free condoms? A friend of mine once told me he was on a shot to prevent pregnancy — is there such thing, and if there is, what are some of the possible side-effects?

— Curious

Dear Curious,

First, yay for thinking about birth control before you have sex! And using two forms of contraception will make your chances of pregnancy even smaller. Unfortunately, there is no reliable, reversible male contraceptive besides condoms. (I don’t think withdrawal, or pulling out, is effective enough to talk about here.)

There are many reasons why we don’t have a good hormonal method for men yet, though recent studies show a lot of promise. There are shots and pills for men that are not available in the U.S., but to the best of my knowledge, these methods either aren’t effective, aren’t safe (for him), or both. Not safe, because they contain extremely high doses of hormones that have not been extensively studied and could put him at risk of cancer.

But the good news is that there are latex-free condoms available, like Avanti Bare by Durex, and you can buy them in major drug stores or online. Most non-latex condoms used to be made from polyurethane — like Trojan’s Supra condoms. But polyisoprene condoms are becoming more and more common — that’s what the new version of Durex’s Avanti condoms and Lifestyles’ Skyn condoms are made from. According to GoodVibes, if you found that polyurethane wasn’t elastic enough for you, then the new polyisoprene is your answer. The only difference is that — just as with latex condoms — you can’t use oil-based lubes with polyisoprene condoms (whereas you can use oil-based lubes with polyurethane condoms, like Trojan Supra).

And you should definitely stay away from condoms made from natural materials like lambskin — they’re more porous than polyurethane and polyisoprene, so are less likely to prevent passage of microbes or sperm.

Stay safe,

Dr. Kate

P.S. from Em & Lo: If this “friend” of yours who claims to have had the shot lives here in the U.S., then we’d think twice before buying any swampland in Florida from him. And we’d definitely think more than twice before sleeping with him — that’s the kind of guy who’ll lie about STDs, too! Boinker beware.

Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City. She also lectures nationally on women’s health issues and conducts research on reproductive health. Check out more of her advice and ask her a question at Gynotalk.com.


  1. years ago I dated a very nice gut he was great I would have married him but he didn’t want kids so i marryed someone else…it did not work I again dated the first guy I knew it would never go anywhere because I had kids. Got pregnant by him I left stste and had and raised the baby now grown never told him, until a year or two ago he thanked me but that was all that was said it was my choise to have the baby he did not want, so why should he pay he should’nt I knew going in that he did not want kids why should I make him pay I played so I payed.

  2. Hey Ann, thanks so much for the update. Our bad for not keeping up to date with the very latest in condom releases! You’re right, Durex took Avanti off the market and it’s now back on — and it’s no longer made from polyurethane; it’s now made from a newer material called polyisoprene. We’ve updated the entry above to reflect this, and have added a few more links to condoms made of both polyurethane and polyisoprene. Good luck getting a batch of those new Durex condoms in. And glad to hear that Durex treats non-profits well — we continue to heart Durex!

  3. The subject of male contraception upsets me. The mainstream media and doctors all seem to focus on hormonal methods. Douchey. Lots of side effects while trying to kill my millions of sperm? No thank you. It looks like stupid issues push all the funding money toward hormonal methods. I think the most promising approaches involve disrupting the outer membrane of sperm, so that they can’t fertilize an egg. Here are two links:


    I would find it delicious if Nifedipine were proven effective, and a black market for it developed, making us all criminals for wanting to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

  4. Is Avanti back on the market? For the past two years I’ve been in charge of purchasing condoms for a peer sexual-health group at a major university. Last year, I was unable to get Avanti because it had been brought back to formula, so my only option was the Trojan non-latex (which of course does not sell at non-profit prices.) I had heard that Durex was about to bring their non-latex back on the market, but it was not polyurethane based, and it was being sold under a different name.

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