Skepchick Quickies, 2.11


Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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  1. This brings up an interesting question. How do you scientifically test a birth control product? Obviously, a placebo would be very uncool.

    Anybody know what the protocols are for such a test?

  2. @mikespeir: I can see it being used by married couples but, yeah, “Hey baby, I’m on the pill” probably wouldn’t work as a pickup line.

  3. @Steve: Not to mention the fact that a pill taken by either party does not protect against STDs. It’s clearly a product that’s best for committed couples .

  4. Steve:

    Yeah; but I imagine that even a woman in a committed relationship would be wary of that as the only contraception they used. After all, if something goes haywire, who’s going to get the worst of it? I see the “male pill” as just supplementary to whatever contraception the woman is using–as a little added insurance.

  5. @mikespeir: Imminently sensible. In fact, that is how my girlfriend and I treat the real pill. Why wouldn’t you want multiple lines of defense with something as important as birth control?

  6. @mikespeir “Oh, yeah. I can just see women trusting that ‘male pill.'”

    You may have noticed that it’s not for women… It’s for men. Women have safe and reliable forms of birth control already. There’s no reason they can’t take responsibility for the status of their own fertility. With a male pill, men can do the same.

    That is a Good Thingâ„¢.

  7. Also, looks like there are higher cervical cancer rates in provinces restricting the HPV vaccine.

    The HPV vaccine is so new, how could there be a correlation? Unless, of course, these same provinces have been restricting access to safe sex education for a long time…

  8. “[Somers]is particularly annoyed with the criticism of male doctors, saying they’ve never experienced menopause”

    And all oncologists must suffer cancer, and cardiologists must suffer heart attacks. I shudder at the multitude of ailments one must go through before becoming a general practitioner. I can see why being a specialist is so appealing.

  9. NoReply:

    I think you missed my point. No, it’s not for men, but women still have to be willing to trust it. After all, it’s women who are at risk of getting pregnant.

  10. @mikespeir: *SERIOUSLY* No matter how awesome the man you are sleeping with is, he can’t get pregnant and therefore the burden really isn’t on him. He likely won’t be worried nearly as much as the woman who CAN get pregnant.

    I think the “male pill” is a good option for men who want to be certain *for themselves* and also for couples to double up on protection (ie, the man AND woman are both on the pill). However, I’d never use it as the only birth control. Never.

  11. @mikespeir: No they don’t. This is not a substitute for women seeing to their own birth control.

    The fact that it is the woman who can get pregnant doesn’t mean it is all about women. The physical effect of pregnancy is all on the woman, but the financial and lifestyle consequences of an unwanted pregnancy affect men. In fact, those should be a special concern for men pre-pregnancy because that is when we have to exercise control over our own reproduction. We physically can’t do so after the fact. You can’t get the bullet back into the gun.

    Men aren’t the only ones who behave irresponsibly. Men aren’t the only ones who lie about birth control. Why can’t a man’s ability to protect himself have value all on it’s own?

    So while one is all for any positive effect this has on women, that isn’t what this is all about.

    We’re not missing your point. We just don’t see the value in it that you seem to.

  12. @NoReply: That wasn’t the point. It’s the fact that we, as women, don’t trust a man, who CANNOT GET PREGNANT, to be in charge of birth control. Unless, of course, we don’t care if we get pregnant.

    It’s not so much trust as it is … the burden isn’t on them. It just isn’t. Men can’t get pregnant, and so they just aren’t likely to be as diligent with birth control. If they “forget” a pill, it’s not as a big a deal to them as it is to the women, period.

    I mean, if I was dating someone and he wanted to be on the “male pill” I’d totally support him. While still taking birth control myself.

  13. @TheCzech: This is why I thin it would work as a great secondary method, and because I DO think it’s awesome that men now have the ability to take more control. That is certainly not a bad thing, not at all.

    Still, I don’t agree with this:

    “The physical effect of pregnancy is all on the woman, but the financial and lifestyle consequences of an unwanted pregnancy affect men. ”

    This isn’t always true. If you ask a few friends of mine who track down “dead beat parents” for a living, you’ll come to realize that nearly all of these “dead beat parents” are fathers. In our society, it’s still very, very common for the woman to get “stuck” with the consequences of pregnancy, while it’s seem as normal for the man to just run away.

    I see this “male pill” as a great way for men to take more responsibility when it comes to reproduction. That is certainly a very, very good thing.

  14. @TheCzech: “So while one is all for any positive effect this has on women, that isn’t what this is all about.”

    And actually, it kind of is. This “male pill” was created so that some of the responsibility would be taken off the woman and given to the man. This is a positive effect on women.

  15. It sounds like the male pill is a good thing to have given you are prone to going out, getting messed up, and having anonymous sex that you can’t even remember. There’s less of a chance of having to deal with the potential reproductive aftermath.

    Sure, you still have herpes simplex 10, but no paternity suits.

  16. Frankly, this idea that there has to be female buy-in for a man to use his own birth control also implies that the only reason for a man to bother doing so is to placate women. That’s a very insidious and sexist implication, demeaning to both men and women.

  17. @marilove: Except that as much as I don’t buy into some of the emphasis here, people who say that this doesn’t necessarily give more peace of mind to women are right. For both men and women, the best way to make sure something is done right is to do it yourself.

  18. Oprah is dangerous! She knows nothing and has everything to push the “non-knowledge” she gathers. She’s scary. And Sommers is no better. Celebrity is not a degree or study in medicine

  19. @marilove: I’m sure that the millions of non-custodial fathers who do pay child support would love to hear from you that they have no financial stake in birth control.

  20. I would have liked to have had access to a pill back in the days before my vasectomy. With the unreliabilty of my children’s mother and broken condoms I am now the father of 3 teenagers. I would have liked to have taken it in correlation with condoms. Also I wouldn’t have placed my trust in a wife who, looking back on things, was a liar and very manipulative.

  21. Well, I have been married for a long time and I’d definitely trust MrWriterdd to take the male pill. It just depends what kind of relationship you are in, I guess. I definitely would not trust this option when having sex with someone with whom I was not in a long-term relationship.

  22. I think the pill is to give the man more piece of mind. He takes the pill and uses condoms and has less of a chance of being named in a paternity suit down the road.

  23. @TheCzech: When, exactly, did I say “they have no financial stake in birth control”? When? Where? Because I sure didn’t!

    The majority of “dead beat parents” are fathers. Period. Of course women can be just as awful (and I have stories about such women in my own family). Humans can be pretty sucky, as a whole.

    However, in our society, it is still much more common for the woman to be “stuck” with a child, not the man. The statistics show this. It’s not rocket science.

    That said, a “male birth control pill” is still a good idea, both for men who DO want to take responsibility (and most men do). And it’s great for women as well, who want help with that responsibility.

    Still, I, as a woman, would never, ever, ever use the “male birth control pill” as the only form of birth control, simply because the man cannot get pregnant. I can. The burden is all on me. Sure, some of the burden MAY be on the fater after the fact, but the majority of the burden is still on me, since I am the one that can get pregnant.

  24. @marilove:

    —Begin Quote—
    Still, I don’t agree with this:

    “The physical effect of pregnancy is all on the woman, but the financial and lifestyle consequences of an unwanted pregnancy affect men. ”
    —End Quote–

    How precisely am I supposed to interpret it when you say you disagree with a phrase that says that men are financially affected by unwanted pregnancy?

    It’s no big deal if you misspoke, but own what you said.

  25. @writerdd: And this aspect should not be forgotten or glossed over. Likewise, I trust my girlfriend not to go off the pill without telling me.

  26. @TheCzech: Well, the indication of effectiveness would simply be the amount of sperm in the sample. So sample before the pill, sample after the pill and keep a record of all “emissions” to rule out depletion of reserves. Maybe even institute a schedule. In one group give the actual pill, in another group give a sugar pill. Tell them to refrain from having intercourse without a condom (or altogether) for the duration of the study. I think that would be a pretty decent protocol.

  27. @Kimbo Jones: Seems good to me, but what do I know. I do know that for semen samples, they usually want you to refrain for some period of time beforehand so that the “clip” is “fully loaded”. I imagine that would be in force here.

    Aren’t you glad you came late to this discussion? Wouldn’t want to miss out on this scintillating discussion on sperm collection.

  28. Dang, TheCzech, you’re going off on a tangent without me. Who said anything about it being “all about women”? But, surely, it doesn’t take a lot of experience with this world to see that women are at the greater risk here. Don’t get so defensive about possible sexism that you miss reality. All I’m saying is that a women will want first to know that the “male pill” works and that, in fact, her man has taken it as prescribed. She’ll want to know that in order to protect herself.

  29. @mikespeir: So you keep saying. And I keep saying that the woman can’t know for sure whether a man has taken it, so if there are any lack of trust on her part, the only solution is for her to take care of it herself. So why are we talking about this treatment like it is primarily a female issue?

    Since all we seem to have here is an endless loop of the same points, I doubt that there is anything else to say.

  30. Well now wait a minute. There’s more men out there that don’t want kids than women.

    I can’t speak for all dudes, but when faced with another mortgate payment (child support) I have never trusted any woman that said “don’t worry, I’m on the pill”.

  31. @mxracer652: If you don’t know someone well enough to trust them on birth control, you don’t know the person well enough to forgo a condom. Condoms ain’t just for birth control.

  32. @mxracer652: As TheCzech has said, to “know for sure” you must take responsibility for yourself, and not just assume your partner is doing it all. That’s just common sense.

    I, a woman, do not want kids, so you better believe that I take responsibility for my own birth control. If my partner also wants to do the same, more power to him.

    Still, the man isn’t at risk for getting pregnant, so the consequences are still greater on my side (if I don’t want to get pregnant).

  33. @TheCzech: “If you don’t know someone well enough to trust them on birth control, ”

    It really doesn’t have to do with trust, exactly, even if we keep using that word. Just because I am afraid my male partner may not be as diligent as I would on birth control does not mean I do not trust him. It just means that I know, as a woman who has taken birth control on and off for almost a decade, how difficult it is to take birth control properly. It’s easy to miss a pill, it’s easy to forget that certain medications make it not work as well, it’s easy to forget that hey, I just got diarrhea and essentially skipped a pill. etc.

    It’s hard enough for women, who carry most of the burden of pregnancy, to take birth control properly, and many women get pregnant even if they do. Birth control is not 100%, and I think it’s naïve to think that a male pill will be 100%.

    To imply that I don’t know my partner well enough to “trust” that he takes his birth control correctly and regularly is unfair. I just know the risks involved when it comes to birth control and how often it goes wrong. To recognize that and to take extra precautions is smart, not an indication of a lack of trust.

  34. @marilove: Well, I meant “trust” in the more generic sense just like you would talking about trusting someone to remember to take out the garbage, but it is a loaded word and I will keep that in mind.

    Actually, this new male birth control is harder to screw up because it lasts two months, so you don’t have to remember every day. Of course, on the other hand, you will have to go to the doctor for a shot, so you would need to mark it on your calendar to avoid losing track.

    I know full well that birth control pills are very easy to mess up for the most mentally competent of individuals. That egg is just sitting at the starting gate waiting for you to miss a pill so it can do its dash down the Fallopian tube. Very unforgiving of human error.

    And as you say, even taken without error, the failure rate of the pill isn’t that reassuring…even worse, those statistics are generated using women of average fertility ates. An especially fertile woman will defeat the pill more frequently. We really should come up with something better for go-to female birth control.

  35. I feel like I’ve been out of the discussion too long already, but I’ve read the thread and I’m more or less up-to-speed, so here goes:

    TheCzech seems to have my take on this pretty much pegged. This isn’t about men “taking some of the responsibility” off of women for birth control. It’s not about who trusts whom (if you want to get into that–to paraphrase–what man would trust this “female pill”?) . It’s simple, reasonable men have a major stake in what happens to their sperm after doing the deed and the point of a male “pill” is to give them some control over the issue. This is an end in itself, there is no need to even consider whether women will trust men to use the thing right (why wouldn’t they? stereotypically men in relationships are the ones trying to avoid kids, even more than the women).

    I don’t see why this is hard to get your head around. Right now, women have ways to take responsibility for their reproductive fates. Beyond the condom, not so for men.

    I realize we’re on skepchick, but the idea that men might want to have this kind of control over reproduction is not the sort of thing we need to be skeptical/cynical about.

  36. Regarding the HPV vaccine and seemingly corresponding lower rates of cervical cancer…yeah, it’s only been a couple of years, how would that be possible? Isn’t cervical cancer not exclusively caused by hpv AND hpv doesn’t necessarily cause cervical cancer? I dunno. The whole gardasil thing has always seemed a little off to me.

  37. Haha, I got more of a kick out of the Death Star math. I always thought it seemed like overkill… humanoids are pretty delicate relative to rock, and don’t live in a very thick layer of planet…

  38. @TheCzech: “We really should come up with something better for go-to female birth control.”


    And really, if a woman is comfortable JUST using the male birth control, that’s totally her decision. I’m just not sure I could be, because of the fact that *I* am the one who would get pregnant. I’d be worried all the time, no matter how much I DID trust my male partner. It’s part of the paranoia when you REALLY do not want kids. :)

  39. @NoReply: Oh, no, I totally get that point, and agree. And I think it’s great that men can now take more responsibility. Perhaps that will help change things when it comes to reproductive rights, even.

    I was just speaking as a woman, is all. And you’re right: If a man really does not want to get his partner pregnant, he needs to take just as much responsibility, and it’s great that he might have another choice besides a condom now.

  40. Hmmm, I’m wondering why all this discussion of sex and fertility when there is an AWESOME Death Star thread! :oD

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