Pills, gels, customised jockstraps: are we any closer to a male contraceptive?

For Pierre Colin, 72, the search for a viable male contraceptive has been lifelong. As with the female hormonal pill, first prescribed (to married women only) on the NHS in 1961, the history of male contraceptive development is long and complicated.

Upon its release, the pill became synonymous with a revolution in sexual freedom. By the time it was made available in the UK regardless of marital status, in 1967, nearly 13 million women worldwide had used it – despite significant potential side-effects, including blood clots and stroke. In Toulouse, Colin, a geologist, wanted to push for a male contraceptive to alleviate this burden. “My female friends were active feminists and so us men wanted to do our part,” says Colin. “We realised it was not enough to just speak about masculinity; we needed to do something to help in the relationships.”

While female contraceptives have proliferated, encompassing the pill,intrauterine devices (the coil), implants and spermicidals, male options are twofold: condoms or a vasectomy. Between 2006 and 2016, the number of vasectomies undergone in the UK fell by 64%, making condoms by far the most popular method.

Read the feature in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 29/04/19]