The future of the male pill.

Health and medicine explained.
Oct. 1 2004 7:50 AM

Jagged Little Pill

Will male birth control ever become a reality?

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On the other hand, there was some enthusiasm about taking the reins, which had a few of my subjects sounding like First-Wave Feminists: "It's my body, and I'd be more in control." (Control quickly emerged as the way to hook men.) But what will really determine whether the "male pill" catches on is the way in which younger men are taught to think about birth control. What if it became common practice for 16-year-old boys to talk to their fathers about getting "that prescription," just as many girls do with their mothers? Maybe young men might even start viewing sex in a more serious, responsible light.

Perhaps men are ready to compromise, to share the inconveniences and the health risks. But will the American drug companies be able to put aside their gendered views?

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This week, specialists from Europe and their American counterparts met for the annual four-day "Future of Male Contraception" conference in Seattle to share theories, discuss recent breakthroughs, and boost morale. Specialists chatted with the handful of U.S. pharmaceutical reps in attendance, hoping word of their latest research would be taken back to those holding the purse strings and we might finally see some results. After all, with so many unhappy women and quite a few willing men, a male "pill" is looking like a great investment.

Alex Mar is a writer/director whose work has also appeared in New York magazine and Rolling Stone. Her first film, the documentary American Mystic, will be released this year.

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