Tag Archives: male contraception

Why Don’t Anti-Abortion Advocates Talk About Vasectomies?

I don’t enjoy talking about hot-button issues like abortion.

I try to avoid talking about politics in general.

I know I’ve touched on controversial issues in the past, including abortion, but I’ve tried to get away from those topics this past year. A lot of that had to do with the 2020 Presidential election, which just brought out the worst in so many people.

Believe me, I had opinions on a number of issues, but I didn’t think sharing them would be very productive. Even with the benefit of hindsight, I think that was the right choice.

Now, the election is over. I know some people still haven’t accepted that, but the votes are in. Like it or not, we’re moving forward and a number of issues are not going away. Some are bound to get worse. One issue, I believe, that is almost certain to get more touchy is abortion.

It is the hottest of hot button issues and a while back, I even speculated that shake-ups on the United States Supreme Court could shift the legal landscape surrounding abortion. I think, given the current makeup of the court, that’s even more likely.

I’d even go so far to say there’s a good chance that Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that legalized abortion in the United States, will get overturned in the next two years. It’s not a guarantee, but it’s much more possible now than it was at this time last year. When that happens, the whole abortion debate will shift significantly.

However, the implications of that act is not what I want to talk about. Instead, I want to highlight one particular aspect of the abortion debate that never seems to get raised. I think there’s a not-so-subtle reason for that, but that’s exactly why I want to highlight it. It comes down to a simple question.

Why don’t anti-abortion advocates talk about vasectomies?

It’s not an irrelevant question. I would even argue it’s a question you can’t avoid if you’re primary goal is to reduce the number of abortions by any means necessary. I understand why making it illegal is the primary goal for the anti-abortion/pro-life crowd, but that cannot be the end of the debate.

Again, we have real-world examples of what happens when abortion is banned. They’re not pretty.

I’m still willing to set that aside for the sake of this question. I’ll even work under the assumption that those who identify as pro-life/anti-abortion are sincere when they say that abortion is the taking of a human life. I have reasons to question that assumption, but I’ll go with it anyways.

If you’re really serious about reducing abortion or just flat out ending it altogether, why not discuss vasectomies? By their nature, they eliminate the need for abortion.

A man with a vasectomy is exceedingly unlikely to impregnate a woman. It doesn’t matter how reckless and irresponsible they are with their sex life. The way vasectomies work ensure no sperm will ever come close to an egg. Even if you believe life begins at conception, this is critical. It means no abortion happens and no life is harmed.

Now, why am I singling out vasectomies instead of tubal ligation, which is the female equivalent? There is a reason for that and I promise it has nothing to do with sexism. It has more to do with logistics.

Simply put, a vasectomy is less costly and less invasive. On average, a vasectomy costs around $1,000 without insurance. By contrast, tubal ligation can cost up to $6,000 without insurance and has a slightly higher failure rate. The recovery period for a vasectomy is also shorter.

It’s simply cheaper and more effective. In addition, there’s also the matter of women being the one who bear the brunt of child-rearing for nine months at a time. Compared to that nine months of rigor, I think it’s also just more fair that men endure a few days of discomfort. That’s just my opinion, though.

Those opinions aside, I bring this back to the question at hand. Why aren’t anti-abortion activists talking about this? If they wanted to reduce abortions, shouldn’t they push for more men to get vasectomies? Should the male anti-abortion activists lead by example and get them as well?

That’s not to say this advocates full-blown sterilization. Both vasectomies and tubal ligation are reversible. Granted, it means undergoing another invasive procedure, but that will essentially guarantee that they’re serious about having children. They want a child and that matters a lot in the abortion debate.

In some cases, a reversal isn’t even necessary. Men can just freeze their sperm and preserve it so that it can later be used with in vitro fertilization. That’s an established procedure. There’s also another emerging procedure for creating sperm cells in a lab.

In the not-too-distant future, men won’t even need to freeze their sperm. They can just provide a cell sample, let a lab make sperm from that, and proceed to utilize standard in vitro to conceive children. Thanks to genetic screening technology like CRISPR, it might even produce healthier children overall.

All this would reduce, if not eliminate, the need for an abortion. This isn’t new technology. Vasectomies have been around a long time and, if anti-abortion activists were to push it, they could also support the development of technology like Vasalgel, which is basically a less invasive method that achieves the same result.

So, with all that being said, why don’t anti-abortion activists ever mention vasectomies? Why do they focus so much on the woman getting the abortion rather than the man who made it necessary?

There are many reasons for that, some more obvious than others. Many are mostly unspoken and indirect. There are those who simply oppose abortion because it removes consequences from promiscuous sex. If abortion had nothing to do with promiscuity, I doubt they would be as vocal.

There are also those who see abortion as a means of hindering the kind of population growth that they prefer. I’ve noted before how certain religious sects indirectly benefit by discouraging abortion. People with large, unplanned families are more likely to be in poverty and people in poverty are more likely to be uneducated. A less educated population tends to benefit certain people and anti-abortion is just an indirect way of pursuing those benefits.

In both cases, the issue isn’t entirely about abortion. It’s about the effects it leads to.

It’s understandable why that component of the anti-abortion stance don’t mention vasectomies. It’s for that reason I feel the question should be asked to those who don’t fall under that domain.

If abortion truly is a matter of life and death, as many anti-abortion activists sincerely believe, then shouldn’t any measure be on the table? A vasectomy, in this context, could both save life and ensure that no life is unnecessarily lost. Why not be more vocal about it?

For men concerned about fathering unwanted children, it wouldn’t be too hard a sell. If anti-abortion organizations even offered to pay for men in poverty to get vasectomies who wanted them, then wouldn’t that reduce abortion?

I don’t ask these questions to be facetious. With the abortion issue sure to face upheavals in the next few years, I think these sorts of questions are worth confronting. The longer the go unaddressed, the worse the abortion debate will get, along with the myriad of effects that surround it.

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Why The First Male Birth Control Pill Won’t Be Successful (And Why That’s Still Progress)

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When it comes to our health, certain treatments or trends occur faster than others. Fad diets and health crazes can gain favor, fall out of favor, and be forgotten all within the same year. For more serious aspects of our health, the wide acceptance of certain treatments and trends can take longer, even if they work as advertised. When it comes to our sex lives, though, it can be even more challenging.

It’s one thing to be worried about your waistline and your ability to fit into an old pair of pants. It’s quite another to worry about whether certain intimate parts of your body are functioning properly. Naturally, we tend to worry a lot more about the sexy parts. Why else would boob jobs be so popular?

This gets even more touchy when issues surrounding contraception come up. Even when there’s a major breakthrough that has the potential to revolutionize our sex lives and our fertility, it takes time for it to permeate throughout society. It’s also a lot more prone to taboo and political protests than boob jobs.

Just look at the documented history of the female birth control pill. The actual pill itself was invented in 1951. Human testing didn’t begin until 1954 and the FDA didn’t approve it until 1957, but it was only approved to use for severe menstrual disorders. It’s only in 1960 when it’s approved for use as a contraceptive, but it still takes years before it becomes both widely used and socially accepted.

Overall, it took at least a decade before the female birth control pill really established itself as part of modern medicine and as part of our sexual culture. I cite that history because men are close to forging a similar history with contraception. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that men are on the brink of the biggest upheaval in their sex lives since the invention of condoms.

I’ve written about the promise and potential social impact of male contraceptives, referencing developments in products like Vasalgel. However, that method is still in the testing phases and probably won’t get regulatory approval within the next few years. Given that it is also requires a targeted injection, that testing will be subject to a lot more scrutiny, as would be expected of things that involve needles near genitals.

It’s far more likely that a pill will get approval before something like Vasalgel, if only because people are more comfortable taking pills than getting a shot. In fact, as I write this, the University of Washington is conducting a large-scale human test on an oral contraceptive for men called dimethandrolone undecanoate, or DMAU for those who would rather not learn that level of science jargon.

While DMAU doesn’t offer quite as much promise as Vasalgel, it does offer a similar product to the one women have been using for half-a-century now. It’s a one-a-day pill that men can take with their morning coffee. Also like its female counterpart, it uses hormones that effectively block the production of sperm. For men already used to taking pills every day for other issues, it wouldn’t be that hard of an adjustment.

That said, though, this first step towards equalizing male contraceptive methods will face a lot more obstacles than the female birth control pill did when it first came out. In fact, I’d go so far as to predict that if DMAU were approved by the FDA tomorrow, it probably wouldn’t be that successful.

I say that as someone who freely admits he’s not good with predictions, as my Super Bowl picks last year prove. However, being a man who follows these kinds of sex-related issues, I feel like I have more insight than most when it comes to gauging the potential of a major advancement for our collective sex lives.

Like it or not, and I’m sure those versed in identity politics will cringe at this, men are wired differently than women, especially when it comes to their sexual health. There was a very different set of motivating factors behind the female birth control pill, so much so that getting women to adopt it wasn’t too challenging, even if it took years. With men, though, it’s a different story.

Men are already far less likely to go to the doctor than women. They’re also far less likely to ingest something that might impact their hormones and, by default, their sex lives. Since DMAU utilizes hormones in inhibiting sperm production, it’s going to have the potential for side-effects. Even the doctors in the study admit that.

Of the test subjects who completed the study and were taking 400 milligrams (mg) of DMAU – the highest dose tested – few reported symptoms consistent with testosterone deficiency.

The subjects who were given the pill did have weight gains of between 1 and 3 pounds on average, according to Page.

“The weight gain and a small decrease in good cholesterol levels, HDL, are things we’re going to look at more closely in future studies,” Page says.

This is where I have to denigrate my own gender, but when it comes to tolerating side-effects, I think women have men beat in that arena. The many side-effects women endure with contraception is proof enough of that. Men, as tough as we can be, are somewhat dense when it comes to accepting certain side-effects.

It’s for that reason why I think DMAU is going to have limited success at most and will likely fall out of favor quickly once more promising alternatives like Vasalgel enter the market. Even without those alternatives, though, I suspect DMAU will not gain widespread acceptance among men, even for those who have been clamoring for more contraceptive options.

Now, and this is where I’m going to make another prediction, I think that limited success or outright failure will actually mark a huge turning point in the history of male contraception and a positive one at that. To some extent, failure is part of the process when it comes to making progress in our health. Again, anyone who knows anything about fad diets can attest to that, some being worse failures than others.

To some extent, the first male contraceptive pill will be like the first cell phone. It’ll be clunky, crude, and not nearly as efficient as consumers wish it were. It’ll also likely be pretty pricy as well, as only the Gordon Gekko’s of the world could afford those early cell phones. However, that doesn’t mean the product itself was a waste or a loss.

Keep in mind, the first cell phone was probably considered strange and unnecessary in a market that was used to making calls from LAN lines. Why would anyone even want a cell phone that was bulky, expensive, and offered only spotty coverage when you could accomplish the same thing with a phone booth and a quarter?

Over time, though, and as the technology improved, cell phones made their way into the market. I suspect that the first male birth control pill will do the same. At first, it’s going to be seen as strange. It may even seem unnecessary to men who can get the same effect from a box of condoms at a gas station for less than five bucks.

The value, however, isn’t in how men initially react to the first male birth control pill. The true value is just putting the idea out there that men now have this option. Even if only a handful of men take advantage of it, that’s still enough to establish a consumer base.

That small consumer base will eventually grow as the idea of a male birth control pill stops being a novelty like the first cell phone and becomes a legitimate consumer product. There will be plenty of room for improvement. There may even be some unpleasant stories about men struggling with the side-effects.

In the long run, that’s a good thing because once a consumer base is in place, they’re going to demand improvements to the product. More improvements will create a better product. It has helped create a wealth of options for women. Eventually, like the cell phone, male birth control will undergo a similar process until it ends up with the contraceptive equivalent of the iPhone.

That process will take time and there will be missteps along the way, just as there were with female contraceptives. The most important part of that process is just establishing the idea this is an option for men who want more choice and control of their fertility. It’s a level of choice and control they haven’t had before, one that women have enjoyed for decades.

Beyond just giving men more options and choices with respect to their fertility, products like DMAU could start the process of narrowing a lingering gender disparity that has been fodder for plenty of gender-driven conflict. The more we can do to alleviate that disparity, the better.

It’s going to take a while for that idea to sink in. In many ways, the first male birth control pill is going to start behind the curve, but that’s okay. The day will eventually come when both men and women can finally say they have equal control over their fertility. It’s still a first step and given how far the technology has to go to catch up to women, it’s a step that needs to happen in the name of true gender equality.

 

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Filed under gender issues, Second Sexual Revolution, sex in society, sexuality

Advances In Male Contraception And What It Means For Women

I wasn’t planning to do a follow-up on yesterday’s big post about male contraception. In fact, I originally had an entirely different set of topics to discuss this week. However, some issues are just so relevant and so tantalizing that I can’t resist. I know contraception isn’t an overly sexy topic, but let’s face it. It has some very sexy implications.

It’s not hard to see why. Contraception does affect our sexual behavior as a society and a culture. The fact that the Catholic Church hates it is proof enough of that. Their hate doesn’t change the fact that contraception is as old as civilization, if not older. The problem is that, with the exception of condoms, most of these methods focus on the women.

Now there are logical reason for this that have nothing to do with some grand patriarchal conspiracy and everything to do with the inescapable tenants of male/female biology. Radical feminists may claim otherwise, but high school level biology is working against them.

It’s due to these biological restrictions that the modern history of contraception is closely tied to the modern women’s movement. It’s no coincidence that the advent of reliable birth control in the 60s also coincided with the women’s movement that began in the mid-60s.

From a logistical point of view, it makes sense. Contraception didn’t just give women more control over their fertility than they have at any time in human history. It leveled the playing field. Now women could participate in the economy and not be subject to the frequent interruptions of pregnancy, which could even prove fatal in some cases.

Again, the Catholic Church hates this. The idea of genders being equals does not sit well with certain institutions that would rather see women as breeding factories who regularly pump out new adherents/workers/tax-payers/soldiers/consumers. However, if we’re to create a more equal society with more balanced romances, then contraception is key.

That balance has already played out in ways that modern generations don’t even realized. Despite what the anti-gay marriage crowd would have you believe, modern marriage is very different from what it has been for most of human history.

The biggest difference, by far, is the concept of marrying for love. As an erotica/romance writer, that’s pretty jarring because marrying for love is often part of the narratives we craft when molding romantic stories.

However, for most of human history, we didn’t marry for love. We often married whoever our parents told us to marry. Love was even seen as disruptive to this institution. So whenever someone talks about “traditional marriage,” they might as well be referring to a loveless marriage.

Contraception changed that. Contraception made it so people didn’t have to get married for children. They didn’t have to get married because they got too horny one night and the woman ended up pregnant. People could actually choose who they married. What a concept right?

This concept couldn’t have worked without contraception because it gave couples control over their fertility. Men and women could spend time to find out whether they were romantically and sexually compatible. If done right, then it makes for a more loving, intimate bond. However, as the divorce rate indicates, there’s room for improvement.

That brings me back to Vasalgel, a potential game-changing contraceptive that the Catholic Church is sure to hate. What the birth control pill did for women in the 60s, Vasalgel could do for men today. It effectively levels the playing field in a way human civilization has never experienced.

It’s exciting and somewhat scary, but it is coming. The effectiveness of Vasalgel has already been proven to work in monkeys with no ill-effects. There are now monkeys in labs that can hump all they want and never have to worry about a monkey baby mama. Those are probably some very happy monkeys.

Within the next three to five years, after further testing with the FDA, this product could become available for men everywhere who also want to avoid baby mamas. Unlike condoms or pills, Vasalgel is as close to idiot-proof as you can get when it comes to contraception. For certain men, that’s very important for reasons I hope are obvious.

As a brief refresher, Vasalgel works in a way that’s not unlike a non-hormonal IUD for women. It involves injecting a special gel into the vas deferens of a man, which are the tubes that carry the sperm from the testes. This gel allows seminal fluid to pass through, but not the sperm. Without the sperm, there’s no possibility for conception. Even the anti-abortion crowd can’t complain about this.

There are no hormones involved so it doesn’t mess with any biology, which has been a big problem with past male contraceptives. It’s also easily reversible, requiring only another injection into the vas deferens to dissolve the gel. After that, the man can go back to making babies like a wannabe Dugger.

It’s also completely passive. Men don’t have to think or worry about it in any capacity. They don’t have to remember to put on a condom. They don’t have to remember to take a pill. Given how much thought and energy men put into video games, football, and extreme sports, that’s also very important.

Once injected, Vasalgel lasts for approximately 10 years. That’s 10 years of men never having to worry about a woman showing up on their doorstep with a baby and a legal document saying they owe them back child support. Ask any guest on Maury Povich why that’s very important to many men.

Beyond giving lawyers one less recourse to screw men out of their money, there will likely be other major impacts on men, women, and society as a whole. Think about it. What will this do for men and male sexuality in general?

Make no mistake. There will be an impact. We saw it with the birth control pill for women. We’ll definitely see something similar with men. I already painted a scenario in my last post for a man who doesn’t want to worry about having children. For this post, I’d like to focus on the women.

In order to do that, I’ll have to remind women of a few unpleasant, unspoken truths that some men harbor towards women. Remember last year when I did a post where I tapped into the mind of a misogynistic man? Well, there’s one key component to that mentality that needs to be highlighted.

One of the unspoken, but rarely-discussed attitudes that men have towards women has to do with using their horniness against them. Men hate it when women use their insatiable desire to have sex to manipulate them. As men and as human beings, we can’t turn off our horniness. It’s what drives us to jump through all the hoops that women make us jump through, even when they have serious legal ramifications.

The biggest manifestation of this disdain comes in the form of women who get with men for the sole purposes of locking them in with marriage and/or child support. While marriage is difficult in that it requires legal documents, getting pregnant does not. It just requires that a woman have sex with a man at a time when he’s too horny to remember to put on a condom. Given how horny men can get, this is not a difficult feat.

It’s this kind of manipulation that makes men say and think some of the horrible, misogynistic crap that makes radical feminists hulk out. They hate that women use their sexuality against them. They hate that they can’t always control the outcome of their short-sighted sexual escapades. When you’re that horny, you just don’t think things through.

Vasalgel changes that in a big way by removing that traditionally easy method that women can use to manipulate men. If a man uses Vasalgel, then it doesn’t matter what the woman does to get him into bed. He won’t get her pregnant. He won’t give her that baby that’ll entitle her to a healthy chunk of his paycheck. It wouldn’t just put Maury Povich out of business. It would change the way women have to relate to men.

Suddenly, women can’t extort men in a way that is far too easy, as many professional athletes can attest. They can’t hook up with him with the sole purpose of extracting valuable children from him. If they want access to his money and resources, they actually have to put in the time, effort, and passion to make him want to be with her. What a concept, right?

Beyond baby mamas for pro athletes, Vasalgel could have an even greater impact on the sexual behavior of youth. Many of us, minus those in Texas, endured sex ed in high school. We learned all about contraception, diseases, and all the ways that getting knocked up when you’re young can ruin your life.

Well, to this point, only the teenage girls could do something about that. For the teenage boys, they could never be sure whether the girl they were trying to hook up with was on birth control. It’s not just stressful in a way that makes it hard to get a boner. It gives the girls a significant amount of leverage over the boys. Give any gender that kind of leverage and you’re just asking for trouble.

Throw Vasalgel into the mix and things change. Suddenly, a teenage boy knows that he won’t be getting any girls pregnant for the duration of high school or college. He can be as irresponsible as he wants, banging every drama student and cheerleader in his path, and never have to worry about knocking them up in a way that’ll make some girl’s father hunt him down with a shotgun.

Once again, this levels the playing field. This means girls are the ones who can’t be sure if a man has Vasalgel or not. That means they actually have to talk to each other about who does what to avoid getting pregnant. It’s sure to be an awkward conversation, but the mere fact that they talk this stuff out is important for two people who are thinking about having sex.

At a time when young people are less sexually active than ever before, this could very well change that. Take away the stress and anxiety of contraception, especially among the exceedingly horny men of this world, and there are far fewer reasons for young people not to bone.

Assuming that Vasalgel makes it through the necessary testing phases, it could very well be available for the coming generation entering their teen years. Granted, those teen years will surely be awkward for many different reasons, but not having to worry about unplanned pregnancy will definitely help.

This means that we’re on the cusp of a major dynamic shift between genders. What will happen to the way men and women relate to one another when they both have equal control over their sexuality? It’s not just a thought experiment anymore. We’re going to find out very soon. As an aspiring erotica/romance writer, I look forward to the possibilities.

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