New male birth control gel gets applied on skin... but not where you think
Researchers are testing a new topical birth control gel for men to prevent pregnancy. Here's everything you need to know.
Men might have a new birth control option coming soon! This is a refreshing change as contraceptions have historically been developed for women. Mums have at least 17 types of contraceptives to pick from.
It is also good to note that this new male birth control gel is non-invasive and pain-free. And it doesn’t affect the quality of sex the way condoms do. In contrast, women have had to put up with oral contraceptives i.e. The Pill and invasive contraceptions such as intrauterine devices (IUD).
Men will be able to use a new male birth control gel if it passes clinical trials. Called NES/T, this gel is applied to the back and shoulders to be absorbed through your skin.
With NES/T, at least the burden of pregnancy prevention, which historically has been primarily the women’s responsibility, is better shared with men. That is, if passes the trials and make it to the pharmacist’s shelves.
Birth control options for men are currently limited to condoms, the pull-out method, and a vasectomy. Experts discourage the pull-out or withdrawal method since it’s not a fool-proof. Neither is this a reliable mean of preventing pregnancy or STIs.
Condoms can be skipped when things heat up and there isn’t one on-hand. It can also slip down or break during sex, which then leaves both people vulnerable to risk.
Vasectomies are a more permanent solution. This operation can sometimes be reversed but not guaranteed. This makes it less ideal for couples who want a child in the foreseeable future.
The up-and-coming NES/T for men isn’t yet available. But, here is what you need to know in the meantime.
This gel contains a testosterone and a progestin compound. The progestin blocks a guy’s natural testosterone production, which reduces sperm production to extremely low levels.
Meanwhile, testosterone maintains a normal sex drive and other bodily functions that need this hormone to function normally.
What’s odd about this gel is that it does not go on a penis. It is applied on a guy’s shoulders and back. This is tricky. Can all men reach their back?
If NES/T is not applied properly, it can be less reliable (similar to women missing a daily birth control pill). So don’t depend on this gel entirely to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
“I would not have women stop using their form of contraception even if a man is doing his part in preventing pregnancy,” says Dr. Ross, an ob-gyn in Santa Monica, California, and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health.
So, this up-and-coming gel may not be the perfect solution for birth control. But experts are doing something right by having men make contraception a personal priority as women have done for decades.
If you’re keen on trying the new male birth control gel when it is available, here are some things you should keep in mind:
- Make sure you know the most effective way of applying NES/T and continue using other contraceptive methods until you’re confident that you’ve done it right.
- Remember that this gel does not prevent sexually transmitted infections.
- Wash your hands vigorously if you apply this NES/T on your partner’s back and shoulders. For women, it is important to do so because the impact on women that are constantly exposed to hormones in this gel is still unknown.
- Look at contraception methods besides condoms and the pill just to err on the side of caution.
Also read: The next generation condom.