Progress in male contraception, including male hormonal contraception, has captured the attention of mainstream media, as demonstrated by an article in the June 18 issue of Time Magazine, “This Man Wants to Be on Birth Control: Inside the race to develop a better male contraceptive.” (Subscription required.) Author Alexandra Sifferlin has provided an excellent overview of the field of male contraception as she did in an April 26 online piece, “Are We Finally Ready for the Male Pill?”
The print article includes quotes from participants in clinical trials of male contraceptives providing insight into their level of interest and also makes a striking but often overlooked point about female contraceptives: “..female birth control methods have not solved the world’s unplanned pregnancy problem.” This point is overlooked because of the widespread availability of effective and safe female contraceptives. While there is room for improvement, the problem of providing safe and effective female contraception has been solved scientifically. Clearly factors unrelated to science are at work.
The Advantages of Male Contraception
Male hormonal contraception offers a variety of advantages. For a woman in a stable relationship, an effective male contraceptive may relieve her of the need to take a hormonal contraceptive. If the same woman continues to use contraception herself, the risk of unwanted pregnancy will be vanishingly small. For males not in monogamous relationships, an effective contraceptive pill, gel or injection reduces concerns about potential moral dilemmas and major unplanned life changes if a casual female partner becomes pregnant.
As the Time article notes, researchers in male contraception sense new energy, momentum and public interest in their field. The article quotes Diana Blithe, chief of the Contraceptive Development Program at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, regarding potential commercial interest in the development of a male contraceptive. “Hopefully, we will have results that are exciting and effective enough that a company will come and partner.”
The Potential Market for Male Contraception is Substantial
In a recent blog post, Health Decisions Project Manager Jessica Kappes compared her experiences in studies of male and female contraceptives. “Men are easier to enroll,” said Ms. Kappes. “I think contributing factors include men’s interest in having additional contraceptive options and the ability to control family planning.” This is anecdotal evidence of a potential market for new male hormonal contraceptives. The Time article provides additional evidence: “If a new male contraceptive method is approved in the next five years, the market is projected to be about $1 billion by 2024 and could grow at a rate of 6% over the next 10 years, according to Global Market Insights.”
Health Decisions has great interest in male hormonal contraception, having managed 10 related clinical trials, including studies of investigational products covered in the Time article. We believe the potential benefits for both men and women in a variety of life circumstances would be substantial. We hope to see increased industry interest in advancing development and bringing an effective and safe male hormonal contraceptive to market.
For additional information on male contraception, we recommend exploring the website of the Center for Male Contraceptive Research & Development.