The Independent Pharmacy surveyed 2,021 UK adults to see if the nation is ready for a male birth control pill as scientists make breakthroughs with developing a male contraceptive pill in 2022.
The burden of birth control and contraception may soon be equal amongst both sexes, with a breakthrough discovery taking steps towards making a male contraceptive pill a reality for modern contraception.
A new study has found male contraceptive pills to be 99% effective in studies on mice, and progress is being made to take this development into human trials.
So, with the dawn of a safe male contraceptive pill on the horizon, will all people feel comfortable taking this new form of contraception?
We surveyed 2,021 UK adults to see how men and women feel about using a male birth control pill – and the results were incredibly revealing…
Key findings from the male contractive pill survey
- 52% of UK men said they would take a male contraceptive pill.
- Over half of UK women think male contraception development is a good thing. because "it will encourage a more equal spread of responsibility".
- 15% of UK men think the development of a male contraception pill is a bad thing.
- Over half of UK men say they would feel "more comfortable having sex for pleasure if I was correctly taking a male contraceptive" (53%).
- 1 in 2 single UK men would feel more comfortable having sex for pleasure if they were correctly taking a male contraceptive pill.
- 37% (1 in 3) men agree that if there was a male contraception pill available, men should be more responsible for taking contraception than women.
Generational Divide: Will we see an increase in “contraception equality” in younger generations?
One theme from the data was a clear willingness from younger generations for the development of a male contraceptive pill. Gen Z and Millenials showed the strongest support “for” a male birth control pill.
Men aged between 25-34 were the most open to taking a male contraceptive pill, with 55.5% saying they would take this contraception (the highest “yes” percentage age group in the study).
The trend of younger men being more open to a male birth control pill continues, as 45% of 16-24-year-old men feel they should be more responsible for taking contraception than women if a male pill is developed.
However, this sentiment battles with the finding that one in four 16-24-year-old UK men think women are more responsible than men for taking contraception to prevent pregnancies. The responsibility argument is one of the main driving forces behind the development of a male contraceptive pill as women want to share the “burden” of hormonal contraception with their male partners.
It is worth remembering here that men can biologically father more children than a woman can biologically mother.
Relationship status: Are people in relationships more open to a male contraceptive pill?
The data showed men in relationships were more likely to take a male contraceptive pill than single men. Across all relationship statuses, however, over half (53%) of men said that they would feel "more comfortable having sex for pleasure if I was correctly taking a male contraceptive".
Throughout the survey, there was a strong theme of contraception autonomy, with a key reason for taking a male pill being that men would feel more assured if they were in control of their contraception. For example, half of UK men in relationships agreed that "I have in the past worried about whether a woman has lied about being on contraception".
As for single bachelors, autonomy in contraception remained a strong theme with 1 in 2 single UK men stating that they would feel more comfortable having sex for pleasure if they were correctly taking a male contraceptive pill.
Could the development of a male contraceptive pill, therefore, cut the number of unwanted pregnancies from one-night stands or casual sex?
There are also positive signs for women in relationships looking to come off their contraceptive pills: 60% of men in relationships said they would take a male contraceptive pill if their female partner asked them to.
The data perhaps indicates a future where hormonal birth control is a shared responsibility between all partners. This approach to taking the contraceptive pill within a long-term relationship could be positive as some medical guidance for female contraceptive pills suggests that side effects can increase with long-term use or in women over the age of 35.
Which areas of the UK are most open to taking a male birth control pill?
- Men from the South East are most open to taking a male contraceptive pill, with 63% saying yes.
- 45% of Londoners think men should be more responsible for taking contraception than women if a male pill is developed.
- Women in the West Midlands are most trusting of male partners, with 85% of women in this region saying they'd trust a man to take a male contraceptive pill as the main form of contraception.
- There is not a distinctive North/South UK regional divide, however, three of the top five most accepting areas are in the northern half of the UK, and the second highest region is Wales.
- Over 50% of Scottish and Welsh men are in favour of a male contraceptive pill.
How do women feel about a male contraceptive pill?
So, how do UK women feel about the development of a male contraceptive pill?
The data suggested a strong positive acceptance from women for the creation of a male pill, with the majority stating it was a good development. Over half (58%) of UK women stated the development of a male contraceptive pill is a good thing because “it will encourage a more equal spread of responsibility”.
And, perhaps this sentiment will be more strongly held if a male birth control pill becomes widely available.
Interestingly, over a third of UK men think men should be more responsible for taking contraception than women if a male pill is created. This shows a strong acceptance of the need to readdress the current gendered misbalance of contraception responsibility. Currently, there are more forms of female contraception than male, a factor which is likely swaying gendered expectations of birth control.
But will women trust their male sexual partners to take a contraceptive pill as their main form of pregnancy contraception?
73% of UK women trust men to take a male contraceptive pill as the main form of contraception, but only 5% of women would place "absolute" trust in men taking the pill.
Of the women who would not trust a man to take a male pill, 57% doubt men’s ability to take a male contraceptive pill properly, so, therefore, wouldn't trust this form of contraception. However, perhaps more shocking, is that 49% of the untrusting women wouldn't trust a man to take a pill as they believe they'd use it as an excuse to not wear a condom.
However, it seems that the development of a male birth control pill would still be greatly welcomed by the female population and help re-address the gender balance in contraception. Our study showed 1 in 3 women say they would be less inclined to take a contraceptive pill themselves if their male partner was taking a male contraceptive pill. The younger generations were the most forthcoming, with over half (54%) of women aged 16-24 being less inclined to take a contraceptive pill themselves if their male partner was on a pill.
One of the reasons for women not wanting to take the female contraceptive pill may be the hormonal side effects women experience when on this medication. The survey showed that 40% of women who have taken a contraceptive pill think it has a negative impact on their wellbeing or mental health
Women aged 25-34 have felt the worst impact, with 74% of millennial women who have taken a contraceptive pill thinking it has a negative impact on their wellbeing or mental health.
Why do men not want to take a male contraceptive pill?
The survey revealed 15% of UK men think the development of a male contraception pill is a bad thing. Alongside this, we also explored some of the possible reasons why men would not want to take a contraceptive pill. The results were as follows:
Why, if at all, would you not want to take the male contraceptive pill? Tick all that apply
|N/a I'd happily take it||31.88%|
|I don't trust that it would work||21.77%|
|I think I would forget to take it||15.08%|
|Other (please specify)||12.85%|
|I would rather my partner be responsible for that||10.22%|
|I would be embarrassed||9.62%|
|Contraceptive pills are for women||9.51%|
|My friends would think me weak / less of a man||6.68%|
The results showed some hesitations around taking a male birth control pill are centred around gender stereotypes. For example, the idea that “contraceptive pills are for women” is held by almost 10% of respondents. Shockingly, the notion that taking a male contraceptive pill would “make me less of a man” is held by a further 7% of the respondents.
Interestingly, 3 in 20 men don’t trust themselves to remember to take the pill.
Under ‘Other, please specify’ some of the reasons for not wanting to take a male contraceptive pill cited were:
- “Would it in some way reduce sperm count when wanting kids”
- “Don’t want to put chemicals in my body”
- “I would be concerned about possible side-effects”
- Cultural and religious reasons
Would you feel comfortable taking a male birth control pill?
As these innovative developments in contraception come into play, it will be interesting to see if a male contraceptive pill comes to market soon, and what the update rates of this treatment will be.
When will the male contraceptive pill be available?
We do not have a clear date for when a male contraceptive pill will be safely available to consumers. However, our survey suggests that when a male birth control pill is available, the UK will warmly receive this new development with half of the male population likely to take the pill.
The breakthrough study on hormonal male contraceptive treatments on mice is planning to go into human trials in the US in 2022.
How does the male contraceptive pill work?
There is not currently a human male contraceptive pill available, however, the new developments at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis have been 99% successful in mice. The medication developed works by reducing the sperm count in the male when taking the medication.
The study used a daily dose of a molecule called YCT529. This was administered to the mice over a four-week period and their sperm count dropped.
The study also tested the effects of reproduction after taking the treatment. After four-six weeks of stopping the treatment, the mice could reproduce normally again with no observable side effects.
The scientists responsible are aiming to run human trials in the US later this year.
In May 2022 we worked with Censuswide to survey 2,021 UK adults on their opinions on the development of a male contraceptive pill and how comfortable the nation would feel taking this new medication.