"Forgetful partners" mean male pill could be a turn-off for women

Published: 7 April 2011 at 12:46

Anglia Ruskin academic reveals new research at British Sociological Association conference

Couples could be put off from using the male contraceptive pill because many women feel their partners would forget to take it and some men feel it would challenge their masculinity, research has revealed.

Dr Susan Walker, Senior Lecturer in Sexual Health at Anglia Ruskin University, told the British Sociological Association annual conference in London today (Friday, 8 April) that only 50 per cent of the 134 women and 54 men she surveyed said they would use the contraceptive method when it came on the market. Nineteen percent stated that they definitely would not use a male pill, whilst 31 per cent were unsure.

Dr Walker found that 52 per cent of the women surveyed were concerned that their partners would forget to take it. Only 17 per cent of the men surveyed thought that men would forget to take a male pill, suggesting that men had greater confidence than their female partners in their own ability to take a pill daily.

Dr Walker said:

“Whilst the female interviewees loved and trusted their male partners some of them simply felt that men are, as a gender, more forgetful.”

In in-depth interviews with some of those surveyed, one woman told her:

“I think that women are better at remembering these things. Women tend to worry more about the fact that they could potentially get pregnant.”

She also found that about one in six of the men interviewed felt that taking a contraceptive pill was an activity that was culturally associated with women and which therefore might make them feel less masculine. One man told her:

“The manly image probably does lend itself to a reluctance to take something like a male oral contraceptive pill.”

Dr Walker said:

“I had expected men to be concerned about the biological effects of a male pill. But what I found was that the cultural association between ‘taking the pill’ and femininity was also a concern. Somehow ‘taking the pill’ was not seen as something which conveyed a manly image.”

However many of the interviewees also thought that the male pill would be a more mature and responsible way of practising masculinity and were in favour of using it.

The male contraceptive pill is not currently available commercially. However, the World Health Organisation has stated its backing for its development and the male pill has been successfully used by human volunteers in trials. Dr Walker carried out her research in the East of England and of the 188 people surveyed, 34 took part in in-depth interviews. All of those who took part were using contraception of some kind at the time of the survey.