The male pill



Lots in the news about the male pill over the last few weeks.

This is great after a study was stopped a couple of years ago because of side effects that were very similar to those experienced by women on hormonal contraception.

Male contraceptives contain testosterone and progestagen. They work like this:

You need a hormone called FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) to start sperm production in the testes. FSH is produced in the brain and travels in the blood stream to the testes. in the testes it stimulates the production of both sperm and the male hormone testosterone. The testosterone has a negative feedback effect on FSH so it stops more sperm and testosterone production until the levels start to fall again - that way a fairly constant level of testosterone is maintained in the blood and sperm are produced regularly.

What progestagen does is it stops the production of FSH - that way there is no sperm production and no testosterone production. Thats fine except that men need testosterone to maintain their male sexual characteristics (male patterns of hair growth, lean body mass etc). So they add back the testosterone. That is why the male pill/gel/injection contains two hormones - progestagen and testosterone.

It will be great to expand contraceptive choice in this way.

Problem is that it is going to take 10 years to do the studies until then vasectomy and condoms are the only options…



hmmmm… I think more choice is always a good thing when it comes to contraception, but as the male pill goes I have always wondered if I would feel 100% able to trust my partner to take it - and I am the one who would become pregnant, not him. I don’t mean this in the sense that he wouldn’t care, or wouldn’t do his best to remember, I think he would, but just that maybe there isn’t that same sense of self preservation regarding pregnancy. How many times, when I was on the pill, and I was drifting off to sleep, maybe a bit worse for wear, and an alarm bell goes off in my head, aaargh I forgot my pill! and then I would go and take it … well I am not sure my partner would have that. I feel like if my partner was taking the male pill, I would also want to be using another method, one that I control. But maybe I am a control freak - what does anyone else think?


This is really interesting. @Katrina I think I would also struggle with not feeling in control, again because it would be me becoming pregnant and not my boyfriend. We are both very much on the same page about not wanting to get pregnant, so maybe his impetus and dedication to not miss a pill would be as strong as mine. But it would be a jump in terms of giving the control to somebody else, even someone I really trust, because, at the end of the day, it’s my body.

I think if it was something like a male injection or implant, maybe I wouldn’t feel as hesitant.


I’ve been talking about this with a few people - one common concern - just like with contraceptives for women is - will my fertility come back to normal after I have stopped the male pill/patch/gel.

As far as I know all the studies have been really reassuring on this - just like they are on contraceptive methods for women.

But I can see this being a major concern. I think this is something we will be having a lot of conversations about in clinic once it finally becomes available.


Hello @katrina and @hrmc1

You are not alone in your concerns - A UK survey by Anglia Ruskin University in 2011, found 70 out of 134 women would worry that their male partner would forget to take a pill.

You can see the paper here

This was done some time ago and attitudes may have changed since then.



I agree - my partner would definitely be up for it, but I’m pretty sure I’d be the one reminding him to take it. So maybeI wouldn’t have to deal with the hormones, but I’d still have the anxiety.


yeah I think you are right … with a slightly longer term option like an injection or implant it might be easier to relinquish control :laughing:
I did ask my OH about this this morning (been away and just saw your reply) and he looked horrified and said he would definitely forget and couldn’t be trusted (he didn’t have any issue with taking a hormonal contraceptive itself)