Male contraceptives are a heavily used and researched branch of birth control products. Ranging from the conventional to the groundbreaking, a lot of scientific effort is put into finding the safest and most effective ways that males can prevent unwanted pregnancies. At the moment, there are several contraceptive options for males – with an interesting one expected in the near future.
- Condoms. An old standby for unplanned pregnancy protection, condoms are the most widely used male contraceptives in existence. By effectively creating a barrier preventing the exchange of bodily fluids, they protect against both pregnancy and many sexually transmitted infections. Generally, condoms are made of a thin layer of latex and come in different sizes, textures, and flavors to enhance the sexual experience. Their effectiveness is generally estimated to be above 99% when used properly, though it is important to note that many couples use them inconsistently or incorrectly. Before you use condoms as a personal contraceptive, make sure you understand the proper technique to using them.
- Vasectomies. This type of male contraceptive is unique, in that its effects are designed to be permanent. It is a surgical procedure that effectively blocks the Vasa Deferentia tubes – the ones that carry new sperm to your semen. The procedure is safe for most males, and offers convenient contraceptive protection for a lifetime. Its effectiveness is close to 100%, with an occasional rare case of the tubes growing back together. The drawback to this type of contraceptive, of course, is that it’s much harder to reverse if a male decides he wants to have children.
- Heat Methods. Before the widespread use of condoms, scientists discovered that dipping the testicles in hot water (about 116 degrees) for 15 minutes at a time over regular intervals could temporarily sterilize men. For a time, it was commonly used as a male contraceptive. But it requires quite a bit of effort, as the technique has to be done with perfect consistency over a period of weeks. Additionally, its effectiveness is suspect by today’s standards. Males looking for convenient and effective pregnancy protection should leave this method where it belongs – in the distant past.
- Hormonal Methods. Females, as you probably know, have a contraceptive option known as the “pill”, which alters their hormones to prevent pregnancy if taken regularly. Currently, scientific researchers are making some serious headway in coming up with an equivalent product for males. At this point, successful testing has been performed on male mice. But serious questions remain about its potential side effects, considering hormonal balances tend to be delicate. Additionally, the pill – expected by many researchers to hit the market within the next decade – would not be able to protect against STI’s.