How effective will the male contraceptive pill be?

An experimental male contraception pill called Dimethandrolone undecanoate is expected to help couples that don't want to have children. Net photo.

Unlike women who have many birth control options, male contraception has relied on condoms alone, with the main hopes for future contraceptive developments resting on a long-acting injection or topical gel, both of which are also under development.

The lack of options for men has ensured the burden remains largely on women to protect them against pregnancy. However, efforts to create a once-daily pill to mimic the mainstream female contraceptive have stalled.

The experimental pill, known as dimethandroloneundecanoate, or DMAU, like the female pill, combines the activity of an androgen - a male hormone such as testosterone - and a progestin. Questions however remain over any long-term side effects.

Sunday Times’Sharon Kantengwaasked a cross section of people what they thought of the pill and how effective the drug would have on birth control.

Sandrine Isheja, radio personality

That pill should have come long ago. People need to understand that avoiding an unwanted pregnancy is not the responsibility of the woman alone when there are two people involved during sex.

However, I am afraid that it will promote more unprotected sex since people will no longer be afraid of having unintended pregnancies.The biggest new problem is going to be numbers of HIV/AIDS going up.

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Florent Ndutiye, journalist

I think if introduced to the population, the pill will face serious challenges because of our mindset. It will require a well-organized long-term campaign to sensitise the masses. Otherwise it will cause marital misunderstandings because many men will reject it.

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Kiki Touré, musician

Not considering the fact that one can catch HIV and other transmissible diseases when they have sex without protection, and only considering the fact that one can be pregnant, the pill is a good thing for us men but also for ladies because some of the ladies are allergic to latex and it causes infections.

I haven’t read about the side effects of this pill but it still cannot replace the condom because this pill only protects one from getting pregnant but the condom is long term protector. So in my opinion the pill is not for those with multiple partners, the condom is better.

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Mohammed Okasha, gynecologist

The pill is always good because it is easy to use and convenient but the most important is the efficiency which is not yet up to the moment. No one has yet approved the pill to be safe and effective but if proven effective, it will help us find a way to control the sperm.

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Geoffrey Beingana, pharmacist

I would say yes due to the scientific facts that the hormonal pill working on stopping sperm production can definitely be effective just as women have always done. Also, because it will be a daily pill which is reversible, it would be a better deal compared to the gel or vasectomy.

I however also think it will be ineffective because of its potential side effects which are still too many to be handled by men, such as weight gain, and reduction in High Density Lipids (good fats). Men will not like such effects.

Secondly, the cultural factors will be a major factor. Some men will not be comfortable taking the pill and will prefer the condom and they may fear that if sperm production is hampered, it would affect the sex drive. Women experience the same but tend to tolerate better than men.

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Denise Gakire, actress

I don’t think it will have any bad effects, instead men will be offering support to women in terms of embracing family planning for example if a woman’s body cannot handle family planning it will be easy in this case because then a man will step in. The other thing is, it will help in strengthening equality in a home.

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Claudine Mwangacucu, makeup artiste

I think it will be an effective method depending on how we see it. The female contraceptive pill is easier because women can know their cycle but it will be difficult for the man because he is always ready to have a child and so some women can use that against the men, and get pregnant for selfish reasons.

However, it’s so good in the sense that if the men have unprotected sex, they can still prevent unwanted pregnancies because I don’t think that the burden of preventing unwanted pregnancies should be on the women alone.

 

I think it’s a really good idea and I think it will really work because it’s two people who should determine whether to have a child and in cases where women are left alone to take care of the child, it’s better to be protected.

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