Wise Guys: Could Men Be Trusted to Take a Birth Control Pill?

Advice from three of EMandLO.com’s guy friends. This week they answer the following: “Would most guys take the birth control pill if it was available to them? When it does become available, should women trust guys to take it correctly, so it’s effective?” Ask the Wise Guys
Your Own Question!
(Two of the guys, completely independently, came up with the idea the pills should taste like beer!)

Straight Married Guy (David Jacobs): Don’t know about most guys, but I’d certainly take birth control pills. And I suspect I’m not alone. In fact, I can’t recall ever having had a conversation with another guy about the joy of rubbers! Not a big fan myself — and I can’t imagine any other aficionado of the act is either. As to whether we could be trusted to take them regularly — who knows? Probably more of a crapshoot. But most guys don’t want kids and all the entanglement that goes along with them (until of course they do). And most guys can remember to shower, shave, pay their rent and cable bills with regularity, so why not this too? Perhaps they could make them bacon or beer flavored, or add THC. Or here’s a brilliant commercial possibility: time-release Viagra in each dose! Though that might just result in a constant half-staff boner…

Gay Married Guy (Jon Ross): Good question! I have no idea! The second part is easy though — woman should definitely NOT trust guys to take it correctly, and unfortunately they are the ones stuck with an unwanted pregnancy should it occur. Men can be forgetful, lazy, and lie — they will often say anything to get sex, and many wouldn’t hesitate to tell their partners they were on the pill if they thought it would get them lucky. However, I do think many men would be interested in taking a birth control pill, depending on cost and any side effects, of course. Avoiding baby mama drama is often high on a thinking man’s priority list.

Straight Single Guy (Adam): I’m going to make a few assumptions in answering this hypothetical. Assumption 1: The male birth control pill would be equally effective as the female birth control pill. Assumption 2: The potential health risks/benefits of the male birth control pill would be equal to the potential health risks/benefits of the female birth control pill. Assumption 3: Condoms have been uninvented.

I don’t mean to suggest that, from a moral standpoint, these are the things it should take for “most guys” to take birth control pills. It’s just that in order for that to happen in the current world we live in — a world where 80% of women in the United States have already taken birth control pills at least one time in their lives (I looked that one up!), a world where men are viewed, perhaps unfairly, as more promiscuous and irresponsible when it comes to sex and birth control, and a world where condoms exist to not only aid in birth control but to also decrease the likelihood of contracting most STDs and STIs — it would take an enormous cultural shift for the majority of men to start taking birth control pills.

That said, I might take them if they tasted like beer, which should tell you all you need to know to answer your second question.


Our “guys” are a rotating group of contributors. This week’s Straight Married Guy is David Jacobs, a NYC-based photographer; our Gay Married Guy is Jon Ross, who works for a network news program and lives in Brooklyn with his husband and two dogs; and our Straight Single Guy is Adam, a lawyer and native Floridian in his early thirties. To ask the guys your own question, click here.


  1. I would literally buy as much stock as possible in the company that makes a male pill. I would take out loans. Visit loan sharks. Borrow from family. Pawn all my valuable belongings and sell my car to raise cash to put into that single stock.


    Yes, men would be forever unburdened by the risk of pregnancy in such a profound way it would alter the course of mankind. Then the apocalypse would happen.

  2. While I think the stereotype of irresponsible men is overblown it is a prevalent-enough concern that something could be done about it.

    I’ve always loved the idea of a test strip sort of like those fertility or pregnancy test strips that could be used to confirm male infertility. It could be something really simple like a test for live-sperm byproducts in semen or “pre-come.” Or it could be a saliva or urine test for breakdown products of the contraceptive itself.

    I’d add that while suspicion might be one good market driver an even better one would be so, you know, men and/or partners could use it to confirm that the contraception they want to be using is working as advertised and that it’s safe to forgo other contraception. (And yes, obviously, this assumes that it’s also safe to forgo protection from other transmissions. Which still suggests that, like The Pill for women, it’s a form of contraception best reserved for long-term or otherwise secure relationships.)


  3. I think the main problem would be would you believe it if a guy said he was on the pill?

    I wouldn’t know cause the whole not having sex thing I have going on, but I wonder if ladies would?

    Maybe only in a relationship?

  4. OK, here’s the thing: if you can’t trust the man to be taking BC faithfully when he says he is, then you also can’t trust him to be STD-free when he says he is, which means you really, really shouldn’t be having condom-free sex with him anyway. Actually, you maybe shouldn’t be having sex with him at all, because condoms do break.

  5. Okay, Assumption 3 is plain weird. Men use condoms now for STI prevention and second-method backup when women say they’re using birth control. Women require condom use for STI prevention and second-method backup when they KNOW they’re using birth control. I’m not saying these practices are universal, but they’re common and normative now. Why would any of this change if it were the guy who were on the pill?

    There are men now who are perfectly prepared to sabotage their partners’ birth control, or just refuse to use condoms even when their partners — this happens most often with young teens — have no access to other birth control. It’s called “reproductive coercion” and it’s pretty horrible. Yes, a male birth control pill would give these [expletives] another thing to lie about, but it wouldn’t increase their numbers.

  6. Ok, I thought about this for a minute. If we’re talking about correct pill use, I think men would be equal to or better than women at it.

    If we’re talking about ETHICAL pill use – what Jon is talking about – I think men would be way worse. I think more men would bullshit about whether they’re really on the pill than women do.

  7. I’m pretty sure this is one of those cases where a majority of people assume that while they don’t resemble the stereotype they’re lumped into they still assume everyone else in their stereotype must really be that way. And stereotypes not withstanding most men care about as deeply about avoiding unplanned, unwanted pregnancies as do their long- and short-term partners.

    Considerable market research suggests that men would be approximately as likely to use a non-barrier contraception as women are willing to take The Pill. And that they would take them about as reliably.

    This is not great news since not all women can/will take The Pill nor can/do they always take them as prescribed. But! That doesn’t mean that on average The Pill for women is very effective, and that means while it wouldn’t be perfect it would probably be comparably effective in men.

    Which is why, on average, a Pill for men wouldn’t change the standard advice that hetero partners who wish to avoid pregnancy should always combine two forms of contraception.

    A Pill for men would just mean that men could finally bring a method beyond the relative crap shoots (in practice) of condoms and withdrawal or the permanence of vasectomy to the relationship. Instead of relying almost 100% on methods available to their partners.

    Final point on the stereotype: I’m almost positive that if a Pill for men comes out, any residual nothing-you-can-do-about-it-man sympathy for other men will drop towards zero. At which point I’m equally sure that negative peer pressure will skyrocket. Guys who might tolerate bad luck in other men rarely tolerate irresponsibility or incompetence.


  8. We’re male, not morons. I think we can handle popping a pill once a day. In fact, considering how often I’ve seen women screw that up, I think it’s time we got a crack at it.

    Jon Ross raises an interesting question, though. Women “forgetting” to take the pill and getting “accidentally” pregnant is phenomenon which I assumed would be eliminated if men were the pill-bosses. But would men be just as likely to pull that evil shit for different motives? Just to stick it in? Hmm. Food for thought.

    Anyway, I’m not taking any male pill. Ask me again in two decades when the results of long-term studies are in.

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