The pill for men?

JQ1, a new drug in clinical trials for cancer treatment, greatly reduced sperm count in male mice.

The possibility of a birth control pill for men has triggered some debate regarding whether or not birth control pills are only for the female gender.

A new drug, JQ1, is currently in clinical trials for cancer treatment, but during testing the drug greatly reduced sperm count in male mice.     

Dr. Vicki Pierce, UNA assistant professor of nursing, said there are many factors to consider when discussing this drug, such as dosage, side effects and cost.

“It will take years to develop and test the drug for this purpose,” she said.

If male birth control were to become developed and work the same as the current female birth control pill, many male students said they would still not be willing to take it. UNA junior Tim Byrom said he wouldn’t be willing to take the pill because girls will start relying more on guys, who are more likely to forget to take the pill.

“When guys take it and get mood swings, guys are going to be more angry,” Byrom said.

UNA senior Robert Moody has similar views on the subject. He said he wouldn’t personally take it, but he thinks a lot of guys would before they consider the chemical imbalance it would cause.

UNA senior Taylor Fife said he would take the male birth control pill. He said males have a higher sex drive than women. The higher sex drive will cause men to be more willing to take the birth control pill. Telling a guy he can take a pill and not get a girl pregnant will make him take it, he said.

“Same side effects, same price, same everything,” Fife said. “I’d be more than happy to take it.”

UNA communications instructor Stephanie Montgomery said via email she believes men will be more receptive to the idea because responsibilities and roles about fatherhood have been and are being redefined. The drug itself may still be difficult to sell, though.

“I think that men who are most comfortable with themselves will be more likely to use it,” she said via email.

UNA senior Virginia Branscomb said a male birth control pill would be a smart option.

“It would be the same as them trusting (women),” Branscomb said. “I’d still take it (female birth control pill) for double protection.”

Men don’t have the same exact responsibilities, said Lauren Sawyer, UNA senior. She said the man isn’t actually carrying the child.

“Is the man going to take it quite as seriously?” she said.

Besides the childbirth aspect, the daily dosage of the female birth control pill often times causes health issues. There is no reason why one person in the relationship should endure that when there may be better alternatives, Montgomery said.

Though the idea of a birth control pill for men sparks a lot of interest, it could be years before it is marketed. Drug companies are willing to invest time and money to develop new drugs only when they think they can make a profit, Pierce said.

“It is an interesting prospect to consider, but a birth control pill for men is still a long way from becoming a reality in the United States,” Pierce said.