The male contraceptive jab: one step closer to the obliteration of the sexes?

No longer is hormonal contraception only for women. This is the big news being reported in response to a newly published study which shows that contraception can be achieved by giving men — not women, which is common practice — injections of hormones.

These jabs work in two ways. The progestogen in them reduces sperm production: fewer sperm means a lower sperm count means a lower chance of pregnancy. But, unfortunately, this progestogen also inhibits the testes’ own production of that all-important masculine hormone, testosterone. That is why testosterone is also given as part of the injection; to compensate for the drop in testosterone production.

The idea of this new form of contraception, one supposes, is to redress the imbalance of contraceptive responsibility which women bear unequally. And many might consider it a good thing for men to take control of their fertility in this way. Isn’t it about time they shared some of the responsibility? Well, that’s one gloss on it. Put a different way, however, it would be right to say that this male contraceptive injection is actually a form of chemical castration.

Indeed, progestogens similar to the ones in the contraceptive injection are used even today in the chemical castration of some sex offenders. They reduce levels of testosterone, and libido as a result, and thereby, in theory, prevent recidivism. The effect on the sperm count is accidental in such cases. But progestogen on its own would certainly be an effective contraceptive, though its side effects intolerable. That is why the hormonal contractive injections contain testosterone. This compensates for the drop in the hormone (ie, the chemical castration) brought about by the progestogen. So it remains a chemical castration, albeit one whose effects are attenuated.

Put this way, the prospect of male hormonal contraception is far less appealing. One guesses that few men would tolerate it if they understood its mechanism of action — quite apart from any of the side effects which some men in the study reported. But someone might rightly denounce this as special pleading: women take hormones which inhibit their fertility in a very similar way, so why should men be permitted to squeamishly evade it?

This is a fair objection. But it would be better to ask why this aspect of contraception is so rarely discussed. Contraception is nearly always assumed to be an obvious and exigent good, especially for the women whom it empowers. But many are ignorant of its effects (and side effects) and their significance. For example, many fail to notice the convenient connection between sex without babies and men without an incentive for responsibility. Contraception marvellously serves the base appetites of men who seek pleasure without the commitment of sacrificial love or family life. It is, therefore, not necessarily the great leveller some believe it to be. It says that the only way that women can be equal to men is by becoming selectively infertile — in other words, less like women. Equality is only possible by the obliteration of those things special and unique to the female sex.

Plato, who is sometimes touted as a proto-feminist, shared such a view of women. He believed that women should participate in public life on a similar footing as men, not because of their intrinsic human dignity, but because he did not consider the traditional pursuits of women to be of any value whatsoever. For Plato, being a woman is irrelevant at best. Hence, a woman can be equal with a man if she will become less like a woman. This is the very same sort of feminism which stokes the contraceptive mentality. It is equality that can only be achieved by self-repudiation.

Now it has become possible for men, too, to be asked and expected to medicate their own identity in the name of the mastery of fertility. Contraception will then succeed in its quest to reduce unplanned pregnancies — and femininity and masculinity will be its spoils of war.


  • Sedagive

    Wow. Hormonal contraceptives do come with side effects, and may not always be the best choice of contraceptive. So yes, it’s important to discuss that openly and honestly. But I was surprised- and disappointed- when this article turned into a screed against the very idea of birth control.

    >>Contraception marvellously serves the base appetites of men who seek
    pleasure without the commitment of sacrificial love or family life. It
    is, therefore, not necessarily the great leveller some believe it to be.
    It says that the only way that women can be equal to men is by becoming
    selectively infertile — in other words, less like women. Equality is
    only possible by the obliteration of those things special and unique to
    the female sex.<<

    What a load of b0llocks. Is the author Dr. Antoine Saad, gynecologist? If so, I feel sorry for your patients, as no doubt your sexist, medieval beliefs affect your practice as a doctor. I'm unable to have children- in your opinion, as a doctor, does that make me less of a woman? Or is it only when women choose to control their fertility, that their femininity comes into question?

    • Toni Saad

      Worry not, for I am not (yet) a doctor. To answer your question, it certainly does not make you less of woman. The point is that much contraception implies that the suppression of fertility, which makes women more like men, is a good thing. It suggests that equality can only be achieved in the absence of sexual diversity, that women can only be empowered if they can be as productive as men and free from the constraints of childbearing as men are. How then can pointing this out be sexist? Really, I am decrying a sort of institutional and cultural sexism.

      • Sedagive

        I apologize for my erroneous assumption- I see from your previous pieces you’re a medical student.

        You’re contradicting yourself. You say that in my case, I’m not less of a woman. But you also say if a woman chooses to suppress her fertility, she is more like a man. How so? Can men choose not get to get pregnant?

        A woman choosing when and under what circumstances she gets pregnant, is not being as “free from the constraints of childbearing as men are”. This is a ridiculous assertion to make. Women who use contraception, hormonal or otherwise, still bear children. The difference is they have some control over the timing of those children. That’s where the “empowerment” comes in. Not from being as “productive” as men, but rather from the ability to live a life (ie complete an education, earn an income, or pursue other interests) while at the same time enjoying an active sex life.

        What you’re saying is, is that when women have sex without a meaningful risk of pregnancy, they are more like men. And therefore less like real women. In other words, a woman’s femininity is bound up with her fertility. This is absolutely sexist thinking, and carries with it a multitude of other sexist ideas that belong in another century. Look at the difference between cultures where it’s acceptable for women to control their fertility, and those cultures where it’s still frowned upon or even taboo- and look at the differences in health, longevity, education, and social stability.

        For that matter, I’d be curious to know what evidence you have to support your suggestion that men behave more responsibly when sex carries a greater risk of pregnancy. Because it would seem to me that’s fantasy thinking which is totally blind to reality.

        • Sargv

          > Look at the difference between cultures where it’s acceptable for women to control their fertility, and those cultures where it’s still frowned upon or even taboo- and look at the differences in health, longevity, education, and social stability.

          Look at the difference between cultures where morbid obesity is a norm for 2/3 of the population (i.e. Western Europe), and those where it’s frowned upon (i.e. Bangladesh). Correlation does not imply causation. Wealthy cultures can allow themselves do divert from biological imperatives.

          > The difference is they have some control over the timing of those children.

          Yep. Now is exactly the time when women have all the control. http://gateway-women.com/doublewhammy-single-childless/

        • Toni Saad

          I don’t think women have to do the same job as men in order to be equal. It is self-evident that they are equal in status, and there is no debate here. I only lament that so many think that contraception, that becoming infertile is necessary for this.

          Let me ask you a question: what do you think is the relationship between fertility/female sex and femininity? Is there any relationship between the two?

  • Sargv

    FINALLY! No more ‘ooops pregnancies’. No child maintenance for kids you never wanted. No premature fatherhood. No non-consensual pregnancies. No forced commitment.

  • @PhilKean1

    .
    At long last. A drug that can STOP criminal women abusing children and men

    I am SICK of hearing stories about how single mothers are struggling to make ends meet, even though they always seem to have enough money to get themselves excessively fat and plaster their bodies with expensive, ugly tattoos.

    I am SICK of hearing about women who claim that their contraception failed. How come every decent woman I have even known has never had a contraception malfunction?

    I am SICK of hearing about men who have had their lives ruined by deceitful, lazy trollops. Yet it is the men who are blamed and expected to pay when their poor choices get themselves deliberately or carelessly pregnant.

    And I am SICK of seeing young childrens’ lives ruined. The poor start these kids get will affect the rest of their lives.
    But it isn’t poverty that just ruins these kids’ lives, it is the fact that they are born to rubbish mothers. Mums who didn’t make sure they had a secure roof over their heads before having kids. Mums who shovel food and alcohol down their faces, and live in dirty, disgusting pig-sties, at the same time they claim that their kids are hard-done-by.

    So, bring on the male contraceptive. It is going to mess an awful lot of trashy women up. They will have to get jobs, and pay tax, and house and feed themselves.
    .

  • C.Paravel

    What a fresh take on contraception in a world where the pill is seen as the best discovery since elecricity. It’s reassuring to see someone critically thinking about this phenomenon and not simply swallowing our Western, post-modern view hook, line and sinker!

  • AQ42

    Mrs AQ42 and I have been married for some time now and we have the two children we planned. We have reached an age where on the one hand it might still be possible for us to have more but on the other we might not be around long enough to bring them up, and the pregnancies she had did a lot of damage to the good lady’s health. So, yes, contraception is a good thing.