Male Contraceptive Pill

Learn More About the Development of the Male Contraceptive Pill

A male contraceptive pill has recently entered clinical trials with mice, and these trials have been showing early signs of success. If these trials are successful, a male contraceptive pill could be available widely in the not so distant future. This could mean changes in how we view, use and access contraceptives across the world.

Here, we want to take a look at the male contraceptive pill, how it would work, and find out why one hasn’t already been developed. Read on to learn more about male contraceptives and the male contraceptive pill

Is There a Male Contraceptive Pill?

There is no male contraceptive pill available at the moment. Male contraceptive options are much more limited than female options, with only 2 currently available in the UK, the condom and vasectomy. Because current methods of male contraception are either less convenient (condoms) than the contraceptive pill or are irreversible (vasectomy), the burden of contraception has usually fallen on women. However, with clinical trials beginning on a new version of the male contraceptive pill, there will hopefully be more readily available options for men in the near future.

Why Isn't There a Male Contraceptive Pill?

The reason we don't have a male contraceptive pill isn't for lack of trying to develop one. There have been many studies and attempts to create a functional and safe male contraceptive pill that have not been successful. But why?

Biological differences between men and women

One of the main reasons we don't have one yet is the biological differences between men and women. For female contraceptive pills to work, you only need a small amount of hormones to trick the ovaries into thinking that the person taking the pill is already pregnant. When this happens, ovulation stops, meaning no eggs are produced, and the person taking the pill can't fall pregnant. Men make sperm differently from how women make eggs, and there isn't a way to stop sperm from being made easily by introducing a hormone, as we do with the female contraceptive pill. The only way to do this would be with a much higher hormone dose that could lead to unmanageable side effects and possible complications. Moreover, men can still impregnate women for up to 3 months after they have stopped producing sperm, so this would mean men wouldn't be able to have unprotected sex without a risk of pregnancy for up to 3 months even when taking the pill.

Side effects

Another possible reason we don't have a male contraceptive pill yet is that it is sometimes thought that as men do not have to carry the pregnancy, they're considered less likely to put up with the side effects a contraceptive pill might cause. However, new research has shown that only 26% of respondents' concerns were about the health implications that a male contraceptive pill could cause, which is a positive sign for people feeling comfortable taking it.

Social concerns

There have also been concerns about people's attitudes towards taking it and whether women would trust men to take it reliably. A recent survey showed that 42% of female respondents were concerned that men would forget to take their pill. So even if a pill was developed, would women trust men to take it over using the contraceptive pill themselves? Putting trust aside, the same survey showed that 49% of men would be willing to take the pill, and while we can't say for sure how reliable this would be, it's a positive trend and much closer to being in line with the 65% of women currently taking the female contraceptive pill. In summary, we don't have a contraceptive pill for men yet because we haven't been able to develop one that's both functional and entirely safe for use. There are also underlying issues regarding trust in taking the pill reliably, health concerns, and (changing) social attitudes towards who should be responsible for contraception. There is work being done to solve these issues, but it may be some time yet until a contraceptive pill for men is ready.

What Male Contraceptive Options Are There?

There are 2 male contraceptive options available at the moment. Both have pros and cons but are extremely effective in preventing pregnancy.

It's important to remember that while some methods of contraception protect against pregnancy, they do not protect against catching STIs.


These are a 'barrier' form of contraception. They work as a barrier to stop sperm from being able to reach an egg to fertilise. Condoms are also widely used to prevent the spread of STIs:

  • Up to 98% effective in preventing pregnancy
  • The best form of contraception to stop the transmission of STIs
  • When used effectively and correctly condoms are as effective at preventing pregnancy as the pill
  • There are non-latex condoms available if you have allergies
  • They can be purchased without a prescription quickly and easily from most supermarkets and pharmacies


This is a small but often permanent operation that stops your sperm from reaching your ejaculate, meaning it won't be able to fertilise an egg, causing pregnancy:

  • Over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.
  • Does not affect your sex drive or your ability to have sex
  • Does not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases
  • Very difficult to reverse and is considered permanent
  • Requires minor surgery that takes approximately 15 minutes

How Does This New Male Contraceptive Pill Work?

The new male contraceptive pill works by releasing a chemical that targets a special protein to stop it from binding to vitamin A. This causes temporary sterility in studies carried out so far, creating a hormonal contraceptive pill's desired effect without the negative side effects. It is called a non-hormonal pill for this reason, as it does not introduce any hormones to prevent pregnancy.

What was it tested on?

So far, this contraceptive pill has only been tested with computer modelling and on mice.

How effective is it?

The efficacy of the pill in mice was 99% after 4 weeks of taking it, which is extremely promising and similar to the levels of protection from the female contraceptive pill.However, it is important to remember that these effects are only shown in mice, and it will take further trials and possibly human trials before we will know the exact figure.

Did it affect future fertility?

No. The mice it was tested on started to become fertile again after 4 weeks. After 6 weeks, they had regained their fertility entirely.Any side effects? No side effects were seen in clinical trials whatsoever.

When will human trials start?

The pill has only recently been licensed to a pharmaceutical company that is currently running trials. They need permission from the food and health board in order to go to human clinical trials. They are currently aiming for clinical trials to begin in autumn this year, but this is likely to change.

When will it be available on the market?

If all trials are safe and successful, the manufacturers believe they may be able to bring the pill to the general public in 5 years. However, this is optimistic as these processes can take an extremely long time.

Patient Reviews