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Thursday, April 12, 2012

258

The Agonizing Ecstasies of Male Contraception

There's been some commotion on the web this week about RISUG/Vasalgel, the devastatingly sexy and relentlessly practical male contraceptive procedure that has passed all test(e)s with flying colors in India, and then languished in unfunded obscurity internationally, apparently due to its total lack of commercial viability for Big Pharma. The start of American animal testing in March sparked this viral TechCitement article, which more or less echoes a very thorough (with very informative, but definitely FULL OF BALLS video) Wired article from last year.

The basic outline is as follows: man goes to doctor. Doctor performs a tiny surgical procedure similar to a vasectomy, which about 500,000 American men get every year, except that rather than severing the vas deferens, an injected goo turns those tubes into a sort of sperm In-Sink-erator, and none (that is, 0%) of those suckers come through viable. Fifteen minutes and a bandaid later, man can't knock anyone up for 10 years, or until he decides he wants to, at which point another quick injection flushes out the sperm-addling substance, and man is just as capable of fatherhood as he ever was. These, at least, are the claims of the Indian lab, which has been running human tests since 1989 and reports no adverse effects, and lots of positive ones in the form of babies that don't exist.

My initial reaction to this story was blinding, annihilating excitement. Could we now have the technology to create a man who fully owns his reproductive destiny? Who can say, “There will be no babies now,” and, some years later can, say, “Now it's baby time,” just like that? Why would we bother with Batman, Wolverine, or Robocop when you can make a 6 Million Dollar Man for under a hundred bucks (oh yeah, did I mention it's cheap)? I want this to be possible with every fiber of my being; I have never felt a carnal interest in scientific papers before, but I guess there's a first time for everything. 

Regardless of the particular virtues of RISUG/Vasalgel, I was shocked that I'd never heard of anything like it being tested in the States, while all kinds of barbaric and invasive stuff is perpetrated on females pretty much willy-nilly (did you know that women are now chattel in Georgia?). The simple biological fact of men having external reproductive organs, while women have them way up inside their bodies where they're hard to get at, would seem to suggest that some mechanical intervention in the male would be an efficient way to interrupt the preggification process, but apparently cauterization of tubes and bits of rubber are the advanced technological solutions that merit endorsement by Planned Parenthood for men. Predictably, there is more at work here than just biology; male contraception has run afoul of conventional gender roles, and, like the WNBA, has become a permanent underdog, for that and no other reason.

Female humans have been presented with lots of ways to prevent the S from getting to the E and making the B, whether it be taking crazy hormones (mine make me menstruate only every six months, and throw up immediately if I try to smoke a cigarette), more rubber bits, intensive scheduling, or passing pieces of copper through their cervixes. Hilariously, the closest the RISUG people have gotten to international validation is a "$100,000 Gates Foundation grant to pursue a variation of RISUG in the fallopian tubes as a female contraceptive." WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? Oh, because the male version is too cheap and easy, and the point of birth control is to control women's bodies. Right.

Looking through the history of male contraceptive research (well, a Google search), it is a sad, ugly place. All kinds of hormonal-and-miscellaneous-pill solutions have made it far into testing at major pharmaceutical companies, and then been abandoned. A Time article from 2008 notes a major die-off for these projects around 2007, as a result of a perceived lack of interest on the part of American men. This article exhales a resigned acceptance of science crippled by sexism, and contemporaneous articles on the subject effectively confirm this outlook through their flagrant misogyny. While there have been some amazing advances in intelligence and non-douchery in coverage of the topic since that time, we still have a long way to go, people.

I'm not sure where they found all the sexist whiners they quote in some of these articles. Most of the “con” arguments can be paraphrased as follows:

1. “My girlfriend takes hormones and she says it sucks, so I don't want to take them,” which is a legit complaint for the roughly 12 million American women who are on the pill right now, but it's hard to work out why this would be so rough for guys if women have been putting up with it for generations now. Also, guess what doesn't involve hormones? RISUG/Vasalgel.

2. For RISUG/Vasalgel in particular: “Uggh they have to surgery my balls!” Okay, sure. Take a deep breath, and let it out. A simple, routine procedure, very similar to established medical practice. Local anesthetic. Fifteen minutes. Readily reversible. Anyone who finds the idea of getting RISUG-ed upsetting should read The Hairpin's very thorough, but basically terrifying [Ed. – For some!article about IUDs. There's no There is local anesthetic for cervixes, but it's the best we've got for ladies at the moment, so lots of women go through it and sometimes bleed/ache for weeks. Suck. It. Up.

3. “Women won't trust men (to take pills or have the glue shot).” Yeah ... so? If you're having sex with someone who doesn't trust you, you should be using a condom anyhow (STDs, bro!), but if you have another method in operation, you can pat yourself on the back (at the same time, if you can get a hand free) for eliminating condoms' 15% failure rate. Birth control isn't something that you do to impress someone, it's something you do to NOT HAVE BABIES, and you know who's a really great person not to have babies with? Some chick you picked up at the bar, who doesn't trust you when you say you're on the pill or got the glue shot. Also, guess what you don't have to even trust yourself to take? RISUG/Vasalgel.

Speaking of distrusting your sexual partners, one of the “pro” arguments most frequently cited in these articles is almost as bad as the “cons”: men supposedly want this technology only in order to avoid baby-trapping. That's right, the awesome myth of women's “nefarious schemes” to get men to impregnate them is alive and well, and being heavily referenced in heath articles, as if it made any sense at all. One article from 2008 even went as far as to track down and quote a “masculinist,” which is apparently what you call a professional misogynist, who maintains that women are always trying to become pregnant by unwitting, innocent men who are in Men's Rights hate groups. Given that 1 in 5 women experience sexual assault in their lifetimes, one would hope that this offensive and ridiculous argument would have faded away, but nope! It's in this MSNBC article from 2010, and heavily represented in the comments for basically every article that addresses this topic. I know and respect and love many men who have better sense and better reasons to take charge of their reproductive futures than some kind of twisted fear of women; I want this for them (and for this guy, who is right on the money, bless him).

Okay, so, all sexism and battle-of-the-sexes stuff aside, humans are not giant pandas. We are really, really good at getting each other pregnant; it's as if it were our biological imperative, or something. The New York Times says that hormonal birth control for men is elusive, and I believe them. That said: this is the future of our species we're talking about, here. With all the furor going on about female reproductive rights, I think shifting the dialogue to empowering all humans to choose their own adventures would be constructive. While we're busy fighting about whose problem unintended pregnancies are, teenagers and young adults are out there letting biology take its course. Let's see the forest for the trees here, folks. The common enemy is unintended pregnancy, and dividing the responsibility for that by gender is pitting the husband against the wife, the boyfriend against the girlfriend, etc. I can imagine a world where teenage boys go in for a 2-for-1 coming-of-age procedure, and come out without wisdom teeth but with wisdom tubes; groggy, but fully prepared for adulthood, maybe more so than anyone in human history. If RISUG/Vasalgel is a solution that seems to work, it deserves our attention, respect, and participation.

Eleanor Ray is a writer and artist (i.e. unemployed) in Chicago. Her tenuous grasp of biology in no way hinders her enjoyment of having a body.



258 Comments / Post A Comment

hahahaha, ja.

Just wanted to say: "(mine make me menstruate only every sux months, and throw up immediately if I try to smoke a cigarette)" is a fantastic Freudian slip if it's a typo.

Jane Marie

@ietapi thank you, fixed it!

laurel

@Jane Marie Hi, the Wired link isn't working.

wee_ramekin

@Jane Marie Hey Jane, don't know if you already saw @laurel's comment about this, but the Wired link in the article isn't working.

Also, I think there's something wrong with @laurel's account (or mine)! I can't see any of the comments she has posted on this article, even though she's commented at least three times.

Jane Marie

@wee_ramekin ah, sorry! yeah we're having some comment weirdness today but we're on it. and that link should work :)

deepomega

I WANT THIS. Someone please do this to my balls. I'll give you up to one hundred dollars. Please. Please!

Porn Peddler

@deepomega I would pay someone up to $300 to do this to my partner (with his consent of course. insurance would be nice though)

Rock and Roll Ken Doll

@deepomega
Dude 'Pinners Group Vacation To India!!

saythatscool

@deepomega You know what else costs $100? A Christmas tree.

And just like it, your hanging balls will be for decoration purposes only.

Donovan Gentry@twitter

@deepomega just like my nipples

theheckle

@deepomega Agreed

Where are these men unwilling to have this done to them and who are the women dating them?

As Vanilla Ice once said, "You need to drop the zero and get with the hero."

treeskier170

@deepomega Hell yeah, I'm right there with ya. I want to do this yesterday.

Craftastrophies

@Donovan Gentry@twitter And my orgasms.

carolita

@deepomega I'd be all for my BF doing this for my peace of mind (at least until my menopause), but I'd still make him use a condom. Trusting men in the time of AIDS is ridiculous, no matter how much you love them. And vice versa. People make stupid mistakes when sex with a woman "on the pill" or a guy who's "had their tubes tied" is involved. And that's okay with me, we're all just human. I just don't care to share the possible terminal consequences of them. It's been condoms all the way for the last twenty years with me, and always will be, balls done or not.

stephanieboland

I'd be so excited if this procedure were readily available and all it's cracked up to be that I can't let myself believe it. The potential disappointment would be too great.

anachronistique

@stephanieboland I realized I was holding my breath the whole time. Really? This is a real thing? It could work? IT COULD WORK?

tortietabbie

@stephanieboland I KNOW! I know. I want so badly to believe...!

packedsuitcase

@tortietabbie Same. Ohhhh, same. This could be amazing. Cheap! Effective! Amaaaaaaaaaaazing.

Porn Peddler

Every time I hear about this procedure I want to cry/die/scream. It's FUCKING AMAZING! And I can really come up with no explanation other than BECAUSE KYRIARCHY that it isn't being tested in the US.

I hear a HORRIBLE IUD insertion story recently (granted, girl's gyno sounds like a raging asshole) and then more stories about unpleasant reactions to hormonal birth control and ugh, ugh, birth control is so fucked I want to cry.

lisma

@Third Wave Housewife every story I've heard about IUDs has been awful. And my HBC is so expensive.

Are They Biting Ducks?

@ginalouise Aw, I <3 my IUD beyond belief. I'm seriously an IUD evangelist, though. It's made my periods better. BETTER! Plus I get to tell everyone I have steampunk birth control.

anachronistique

@Are They Biting Ducks? God, I hope they didn't stick some gears on it.

Are They Biting Ducks?

@anachronistique Naw, just a couple of pocket watches and a faux vintage octopus.

noodge

@Are They Biting Ducks? ...some tiny goggle on the ends of the T

lue
lue

@Third Wave Housewife
Noo! I'm getting an iud on Saturday and now I sort of want to cancel! But, jeez, birth control.

Are They Biting Ducks?

@lue Don't panic! The internet is full of awful stories, but practically all of my female friends have them and we wouldn't trade them for the world. :)

SarcasticFringehead

@lue Do it! (Unless you really don't want to! No pressure!) I mean, I don't usually share my story because it's not very interesting: I went to the doctor, had an uncomfortable procedure, had cramps for a few days, and then didn't get pregnant. Not the kind of story that generates pageviews.

nonvolleyball

@lue agreed! I've had two (Paragard) & they are the best.

saul "the bear" berenson

@lue Don't cancel! Go for it!!! I just got one a few weeks ago, and it was a breeze. Really easy, not painful, just weird feeling and kind of achey. You can do it!!!

Danzig!

@Are They Biting Ducks? Man, "Steampunk Uterus". Band name?

Achyvi

@lue Don't panic or cancel! Insertion suuuucks, especially if you are childless and/or have a tiny vagina, but you'll get over it eventually. Take pain pills, lie down (maybe with a heat pad?), try not to pass out in the doctor's office (so sorry, nurse!), and think of how nice it will be to not have to deal with taking hormones or worrying about babies. It's WORTH IT.

magnolia

@lue I cannot preach IUDs enough. I don't know if I'm an anomaly or what but my insertion was EASY, and I haven't had kids/ever been pregnant. Just remember to breathe. That's the biggest thing, aside from really wanting the damn thing. I was crampy for a couple of hours and was on my feet and partying the same night. Everyone is different, but don't be scared off by stories (in the same vein, if you're that worried don't let a few stories convince you). Yes, it sucks for some people, but it has the potential to be absolutely awesome.

magnolia

@Are They Biting Ducks? Agreed!! I always feel like a crazy evangelist whenever IUDs come up because I've had the absolute best experience. And with Paraguard at that!

gtrachel

@Are They Biting Ducks? Faux vintage octopus made me LOL.

packedsuitcase

@magnolia I'm actually talking to my ex about this right now - he said he'd be all for the shot because it seems like such a relief to not worry. And that's it. That's it, exactly. That is why I absolutely love my IUD. No stress. No worry. No period (3 years and running!). Insertion wasn't comfortable, and it hurt for about 10 seconds, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Unless this gets approved by whoever the health authority is in Dudefriend's country, in which case I would fly over there when he had it done and take care of him and do a little happy dance because YAY!

bananagram

@lue Noo don't cancel! It's like non-monogamous couples; you only hear about the bad ones, because the good ones are really boring. I felt not much during, a bit nauseous that evening and was ready to bang the very next day. Bonus: my cervix has been strangely sensitive (in a good way) and sex has been UNREAL.

Spooky Behaviour

I loved this post so very, very much. And this made me guffaw (alarming my plants): "humans are not giant pandas. We are really, really good at getting each other pregnant". Dumb pandas. Also, wtf Gates Foundation??

Beericle

@Spooky Behaviour I basically came down here to say the exact same thing. Well, more about the pandas than Gates, but yes. That too.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Spooky Behaviour I want to be friends with you based on your alarmed plants. You sound all right.

Spooky Behaviour

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose They're pretty easily alarmed (very neurotic). They say that plants can take on characteristics of their owners... Also we are in this super co-dependent, ouroburos type relationship where they're stressed out because I don't know how to keep them in tip-top health (not enough water? Too much? Aargh!), and I'm stressed that I'm a bad plant owner (then I don't drink enough water and start peeing dust). It's an ugly cycle.

Thanks for wanting to be my friend, of course I'll have to check and see if it's cool with Fern (the fern), Plant (the other plant) and Cerberus (the trio of succulents).

Quin

@Spooky Behaviour I want to be friends, too! Can we all be friends? And penpals? I have a bunch of 44 cent stamps that are devaluing so quickly (I must buy one cent stamps now? Really?).

I love plants, but I kill them and when I'm not busy killing them I'm busy worrying about when I'm going to start killing them. *oh little plant, you're so healthy! How long until your leaves turn brown or something shrivels and falls off?* *plant anxiety*

And yeah, the panda comment was brilliant.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Spooky Behaviour Yep. I think our plants could be in a support group together, talking shit about us.

Spooky Behaviour

@Quin Me too! I do not know how to keep plants healthy! I try, goddammit, I try so hard but they just don't thrive (or live). But there's a new condo being built directly beside my rickety old building and I cant open my windows anymore so I have this desire to buy more and more so I can breath cleaner air while cursing the world in my AC-free, stifling apartment : ((

I love pen pals! And writing letters! Although I'm pretty terrible at the actual mailing part. I have these postcards I got for my mum, grandma and sibs that I've written, postaged but have forgotten to mail for a year.

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose But if only they knew how much we agonized over them! Why can't they see how much we care? Plants? PLANTS?

Hurray for new friends!

wharrgarbl

"WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?"

Reproductive coercion/it's always nice to have another non-hormonal, easily-reversed option. It also sounds like this would have a leg up on copper IUDs in terms of not messing with your period and IUDs in general in terms of not excluding women with an uncooperative or a too-small uterus.

Pretty much everything you said about why this isn't being properly embraced in the US, though.

Eleanor Hazard Ray@twitter

@wharrgarbl Yes! A very good point, and certainly it would be rad if this became a possibility somewhere down the line. I mostly imagine a similar conversation happening in Nicolai Tesla's lab around 1893:
TESLA: Look, I've developed alternating current! It will change everything about the world we live in!
FOUNDATION: That's great! We'll give you $5,000 to develop a telephone without wires that you can carry around with you.
TESLA:....

Craftastrophies

@wharrgarbl The other thing is, very often doctors will not perform non-reversible things like tube tying and vasectomies on younger people. For complicated reasons, some of which are good. But I don't see how any doctor could reasonably be able to refuse to do this, since it's reversible.

SheWhoReadsInSkirts

Let's kickstart RISUG, y'all!

RK Fire

@SheWhoReadsInSkirts: I'm trying to imagine the vimeo video for it now...

Judith Slutler

@RK Fire So many balls in that vimeo video, and no unwanted babies.

whateverlolawants

@RK Fire SOMEONE MAKE IT. I would donate money to a legit organization working to make this a reality.

laurel

@Emmanuelle Cunt Maybe the video ends with a smiling happy baby to make the point that RISUG/Vasalgel is reversible?

And yes, also so many balls.

fondue with cheddar

@whateverlolawants The first link in this post links to another post, and at the end of that post there's a link to sign up for a mailing list to be notified about progress with this procedure. There was something about donating on the sign-up page (which I can no longer see since I already signed up).

Emby

I would do this today. Late lunch break. Let's do it. I want zero babies. Please, U.S. scientists, inject my balls with babykiller gel.

cherrispryte

I'm kind of on team "don't trust the dudes" with this, but I am a noted misandrist. .... Well, "don't trust the dudes you're only having a one night stand with" at least.

Probs

@cherrispryte that's pretty reasonable, but as the author points out, anyone you wouldn't trust with non-condom methods of birth control you should probably be using a condom with anyway.

saythatscool

@cherrispryte I would say "you're anal" but that's actually the solution to your little quandary there.

muddgirl

@cherrispryte But see, this is brilliant, because the woman can be on her chosen form of birth control, and the man can be on his chosen form of birth control, AND they can jointly use a condom as desired, and EVERYONE is participating in a fun, doubly-consensual one night stand with almost no worries about babies at all.

wharrgarbl

@cherrispryte I kind of am, too, but I don't think it really matters? I mean, this isn't an open invitation for women to be as careless in aggregate as guys have traditionally been and start whining for unprotected sex on the first date or ditching their pills because it's the man's problem now. And I don't think any ladies are going to interpret it as such, so I doubt it's really going to be a big thing.

I honestly don't get what the hell dudes' problem is when they're all "But girls don't trust me when I say I'm on it!". Your reward for doing this is not "condom-free sex with girls you randomly picked up at a bar/are not exclusive with/just met a month ago and don't know well." Your reward for doing this is "no babies unless/until you want babies."

Beericle

@cherrispryte Right, like it is actually the dudes that are trying to go get ladies pregnant. WHY DON'T WE EVER HEAR ABOUT THAT!!??? No, really though, I am totally with you. Had the same thought. Also, what if it somehow doesn't work. There HAS to be some sort of failure rate, right? Even if it is tiny? Then who is left holding the baby?

wharrgarbl

@Beericle If I recall correctly, the failure rate is all but 0 for a properly-done procedure. But once you have something being done often enough, you are going to have doctors who don't get it right working on guys who don't do their follow-up check to make sure their sperm is properly scrambled.

Like, if the first guy to wind up rocking out with no heartbeat after an LVAD implantation decided to not come back for his follow-up exam because he felt totes okay, there are going to be guys who don't come back to jerk off in a cup after out-patient ball-surgery. So practically speaking, there's always going to be one or two guys wandering around completely confident in their inability to get anyone pregnant who completely can.

Judith Slutler

@Probs Exactly. STDs, they are a thing!

Judith Slutler

@wharrgarbl Yeah and honestly, condom-free sex with people you don't know and trust is not a reward. It's risky, dumb behavior!

cherrispryte

@Probs Earlier versions of this comment had something to the effect of "much like I don't trust them already when it comes to STIs etc." I am not sure why I decided to edit that out?

Probs

@cherrispryte internet comments are hard! I am not being sarcastic. I am 100% sincere. I usually refrain from doing them.

themmases

Eep, I did not mean to delete above!

@cherrispryte I am kind of on the not trusting dudes team, too (@Beericle is totally right that men actually deliberately try to get women pregnant, including sabotaging birth control, as a form of domestic abuse). And I've read lots of worry that people-- but especially male people with privilege-- just won't be reliable about a drug or intervention meant to prevent a health condition in someone else.

But I think lots of men would use this (or some other male birth control), and lots of women would keep using their own-- I probably would-- because reproductive self-determination is a human right that is justifiably important to many people on its own merits. It's important to me to know that my body cannot become pregnant and I personally cannot have children, regardless of whether I am in a relationship with someone or with whom. My boyfriend's desire not to have children is long-standing and will not change if I die in a fire or something. We should both get to make that choice as individuals with rights over our own bodies.

Men deserve better than to have their reproductive options depend on whether they are in a relationship and the preferences of their particular partner (e.g., only feeling comfortable with the failure rate of sterilization or an IUD, but with a partner who cannot use one). And really, women deserve better than to be held responsible for our own reproductive destinies and those of all the men we ever partner with.

Craftastrophies

@themmases I'm on team 'not trusting anyone else, male or not, with my reproductive decisions'.

Well, actually, that's a LIE! A big one, since I am trusting my partner's vasectomy. But every other partner, even ones I trusted with my emotional safety, etc, I would have still wanted a backup, because after all, it's my womb at stake here. But I would have been down with mutual contraception - I had an implanon in for ages, I feel like this is basically the same thing. The thing I liked about that was that no matter what, I was prepared to be baby free. I could leave the house not planning on sex, and still be baby free - in that instance, I would be using condoms also, but you know, I REALLY do not like the idea of surprise kids, and everything has a fail rate, even if it's miniscule. Backups are gooooood. I really liked the security that gave me. And putting myself in the shoes of the many decent men out there (many of them are not, on this issue, granted) I think they should have that security.

My partner got his vasectomy after his ex got accidentally pregnant, and they only 'let' him have it because he had two kids, his ex had her whoops, and he was dating someone with kids. Lots of guys get turned away, and lots of guys want that security for now, and kids later. Since I am on team 'not letting anyone else be the boss of my reproductive decisions' I want that for everyone who wants it, people with male bits included.

Ham Snadwich

@themmases - I'm pretty sure @Beericle was being sarcastic. The vast majority of dudes are all about not getting women pregnant.

Beericle

@Ham Snadwich yes. sarcasm!

themmases

@Ham Snadwich Except that birth control sabotage literally is a form of domestic abuse that happens to people.

wharrgarbl

@themmases And there was that study showing some absolutely shocking percentage of dudes in relationships where they were taking steps to avoid conceiving would be "happy" or "really happy" with an unplanned pregnancy. Like, I guess if you envision it as just sitting back and getting to play daddy in a year, the stakes are way lower? Reading those results was a total "I don't want to live on this planet anymore" moment.

themmases

@wharrgarbl That creeped me out too! I didn't bring it up because I thought I recalled a certain percentage of women being happy, too-- although definitely not as high. I've concluded that, no matter how long I live, even if I throw in years of intensive study, I will never understand humans.

Ham Snadwich

@themmases - Yes, to both men and women.

themmases

@Ham Snadwich ...Yeah, I don't see where I ever denied that. Is the requirement now that any time anyone mentions something bad that could happen to a woman, we rush to confirm that it would still be totes awful if it happened to a man, too? Would you like me to footnote my future comments with what about the menz corollaries? Do we get to argue now about which gender most often experiences domestic abuse, and which gender most often perpetrates it? If so, I'd have loved to know that before you suggested that birth control sabotage is a made up thing that someone would only reference while being sarcastic. Surely there are no actual people here who have experienced abuse to mind!

Yeah, I think I'm done here.

Ham Snadwich

@themmases - Well, let's not overlook the fact that it was being said sarcastically. So...ok then.

ELECTROMAGNETIC CHAOS

@muddgirl: Man, if the dude is on the glue and the girl is on the pill and they are using a condom and a baby STILL gets made, that will be THE STRONGEST BABY EVER

The Lady of Shalott

I think I'm going to bring this up with my boyfriend this weekend (uh, as a thought piece, not as a "hey let's go to India and get you surgeried up!" type way) because HOMYGOD SOUNDS SO FANTASTIC.

Is there any way in which we can try to get this more readily accepted/popularized in the US and Canada? ANY WAY AT ALL? I want it. I WANT IT SO BAD. I mean, I like taking the pill in that my skin is relatively clear and my periods are non-crampy and distinctly less disgusting, but...seriously. Let's trade.

Porn Peddler

@The Lady of Shalott Couples Pin-up in India. I will blow my savings on it. Definitely.

Megasus

@The Lady of Shalott I just stopped taking the pill after 6 years and so far I have been LESS CRAMPY than when I was on them.

noodge

@Third Wave Housewife i sent mr. teenie the article, and he's IM'ing me asking when we're going to india. sign us up!

Megasus

@teenie There are no downsides to this plan. No babies AND curry? It's a win/win!

Rock and Roll Ken Doll

@Third Wave Housewife
Ooooor we could all combine our savings and bring an Indian doctor here! I am sure that licensing and immigration issues will not be a problem!

EpWs

@Third Wave Housewife PUT ME ON THIS TRAIN.

edit: Also probably put my boy on this train, it would be weird for me to go this one alone.

sevanetta

@The Lady of Shalott I'm so signing my bf and I up for this! But, can we go to India, because I am in Australia :)

I was on the pill for 11 years, have been off it for 1, and since going off it I: am way less sleepy, am way less anxious/paranoid, am thinner/less bloated, have less cramps, and my libido is much... happier, shall we say. IMO, the pill works because it makes you sluggish, sleepy and not feel like sex evar.

lol@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher, I nearly wrote the same thing ha

Probs

I would do this shit in a heartbeat. I would walk to Congress and give them all The Brain and scream "I want to glue this! Shot! Glue! This! No babies!" if it meant this procedure would be available here.

whateverlolawants

@Probs I think Sandra Fluke tried to do something similar recently, and look how that worked out.

Probs

@whateverlolawants given the misogyny of our society, I'd probably get a magazine cover with a glowing write-up or something, instead of millionaires using public fora to call me a slut for thinking people should be able to take their reproductive destinies into their own hands, not get cancer, etc.

La-la

"mine make me menstruate only every six months, and throw up immediately if I try to smoke a cigarette" DETAILS PLEASE!!! I want these amazing multitasking hormones??

Shirley Chan@twitter

This is fantasDICK!

kimkrypto

According to Wikipedia, condoms only have a 2% failure rate for "perfect use," which basically means that they GET used. They have a 15% failure rate only if they break, get put on wrong, don't get used every time, etc. They aren't the only means of pregnancy prevention out there, but the 15% figure is more used by the antichoice and abstinence crowd as a scare tactic than an accurate estimation of how well they work.

Porn Peddler

@kimkrypto As a raging feminist and sex educator, I really bristled at that too, but when you're talking about condoms in comparison to a procedure that has so few opportunities for human error to intervene, that 15% failure rate isn't...super inaccurate. Because you can fuck up with a condom at so many points, but only your doctor can fuck up your polymer injection.

Probs

@kimkrypto seconded. If you actually wear condoms (and condoms that fit you), don't "double bag it to be safe," open the wrapper with your teeth, etc., condoms are very effective. The 85% stat comes from people who list condoms as their primary method of birth control, but don't necessarily use them all the time.

wharrgarbl

@Third Wave Housewife I tend not to bristle just because that's how it is with pretty much every type of bc? The ones that don't rely on humans remembering to do stuff/being sober enough to do stuff right/whatever tend to have super-low failure rates that are...right on par with the perfect-use stats for user-dependent methods.

Eleanor Hazard Ray@twitter

@wharrgarbl Yeah, I was not intending to hate on condoms! They are excellent, and most people who are competent can make them work very well. That said, let she who has never been a "typical user" throw the first stone, amirite?

Craftastrophies

@Third Wave Housewife I originally got my implanon because I cannot be trusted to do things like remember to take a pill every day or put a condom on properly every time. My body and brain really really want me to get pregnant, and therefore I make horrible decisions when sex is an option. Therefore: planning.

I got it back in again after a lost condom (inside of me!) scare. I liked having sex with that person but HOO BOY having his babies was NOT AN OPTION.

Basically, I have a low opinion of human capabilities and decision making, starting with mine. Therefore: planning!

carolita

@kimkrypto The only two times a condom failed on me in the nearly 20 years I've been using them on my men has been when:
1. the condom was the wrong size
2. I was not really in the mood, and the condom broke.
The lesson I learned: make sure you're using the right size condom, and make sure if you're still eager-to-please enough to have sex when you don't really feel like it (gad, I still can't believe I was ever that insecure), use lube.
Luckily I'm probably just barren, as the nearly ten years previous to discovering condoms I was just taking my chances with "pulling out," which was foolhardy and idiotic. Still, even if that theory ever gets confirmed, I'm using condoms forever.

 
Porn Peddler

@teenie I would never advocate calling traditional vasectomies "reversible" if only because they aren't intended as a reversible method. Clip procedures are also...problematic.

noodge

@Third Wave Housewife sorry, i deleted... dont' know why! but you're correct. he was just getting so frustrated at our attempts at birth control (and my complete mental intolerance to hormonal types) that he was wanting to do anything.

Craftastrophies

@Third Wave Housewife My mother friends keep telling me that they are reversible, and I should talk to my boyfriend about it. This ignores that fact that 1) I don't want kids 2) He REALLY doesn't want more kids (they're teenagers, he's almost freeeeeeee!) and 3) even if both of us really wanted kids together, I just don't think I could ask him to do that. It sounds awful and the odds are shitty.

@teenie hormonal birth control is the pits. Hormones are super whack/scary.

Megasus

Men are babies enough about getting vasectomies half the time, I douby many will want to get their precious boys cut open and stuffed up. IT WILL COMPROMISE THEIR MASCULINITY.
(not counting the lovely dudes commenting in this thread, of course)

whizz_dumb

@Megan Patterson@facebook Well now I have to comment. Sperm suppressing goo is good, a godsend. Goo is a go.

whizz_dumb

No really, practically eliminating the worry of accidental pregnancy without the use of condoms or hormone altering female contraceptives far outweighs the amount (barely perceivable) of compromised masculinity that I attribute to having healthy swimmers. I'm not just spouting what ya'll want to hear. If that procedure is offered here, really is simple/routine, and is covered under my health care (HA!), I'm scheduling my appointment today. Sign me up for the Dude 'Pinners India Retreat mentioned above.

rocknrollunicorn

@Megan Patterson@facebook I was really surprised at how nonchalantly my dad -- who is kind of a dude, you know, not the most sensitive man -- just walked in and got a vasectomy. Don't underestimate how many men might do this.

Megasus

@whizz_dumb Chances are it will actually be covered by insurance, because the world hates women like that.

Craftastrophies

@Megan Patterson@facebook To protect the poor menz from those scary sperm stealing ladiez!

sovereignann@twitter

I wonder if this came here if there would be a need for the social conservatives to slut shame dudes who go in for the procedure. Would there be doctors who refuse to perform this because it would hinder babies, like some do with the pill and IUDs? Would there be petitions and protests? Or could this be turned into some kind of macho-male thing that makes all of that go away?
While some of this is snarky, it would be an interesting experiment. Let's totally find out!!!

whizz_dumb

@sovereignann@twitter fanatical conservatives would rally against this procedure because it ain't natural and who are we to play god?. Boner pills are still fine though. Slut shame the ladies, slut honor the dudes.

chickaboom

@sovereignann@twitter @whizz_dumb Yeah, I think this presents a lot of interesting angles that way... Birth control is a female problem that means you're a "sex-loving slut," so what happens to that argument when we all take responsibility for our reproductive choices? Let's totally find out. It can't be worse that what we've got going on out there now.

boxofcams

I agree with so many parts of this post! It is true that women should have access to the birth control of their choice, but I also vehemently agree that these medical options should not be only available to women, especially considering the hormones and the pain and the wide range of bodies' responses to IUDs and hormonal birth control. That's why while I'm not on the pill myself I get enraged when I hear about individuals trying to limit access to it and unjustly judge women for using it in the US.

I think if this was brought to North America, and became an available family planning option that was presented in sex ed and offered by doctors etc., many men would choose to have it, because it's a one-time 15 minute procedure for 10 years of unwanted pregnancy prevention, and they would be able to have condom-free sex with a regular partner and not make babies (condoms still being a good idea for possible STD-prevention in the same cases as it is for pill-taking and IUD-having ladies). This way for a heterosexual couple who doesn't want babies, if the lady in the partnership wants to be on the pill or have an IUD, because it works well with her body, that's fine, but if for whatever reason she can't/shouldn't/doesn't want to take hormonal birth control or have an IUD, OR if her man friend has already had RISUG/Vasalgel or wants to because he has decided this is the option best for him, then this exists! That would be awesome.

stuffisthings

I'm so down with this!

One tiny thing though (thats' what she said), I am pretty sure the Gates grant was not an example of misogyny on their part, but rather that they are looking for a cheap and safe birth control method for the many countries where they work where men refuse to take any responsibility for their baby-making.

Though wouldn't it be nice if the US weren't on that list?

noReally

In 2021, I will help my son by the used car on the condition that he do this.

worldoftin

Was talking about this as a party and one guy basically said, "Ew, surgery, I would never let anyone do that to my penis." I wish I'd had a speculum on me to jab him with.

noodge

@worldoftin and then after jabbing him in the testicles with the speculum, he would say "OUCH!" at which point you would say "not that I know because I don't have testicles, but there's no reason this should hurt. it should just be a little pressure."

KatPruska

@worldoftin Well, I hope no one ever does anything to his penis ever again, then. Problem solved.

whateverlolawants

@teenie @worldoftin OMG the privilege! The inequality! Sometimes the rage makes me want to run around throwing model uteruses at random people on the street. Or maybe at a Republican convention.

Also... my friends in college got STD tests and it involved a tube up their penises. Is that the normal way? Because I think those guys came back with a new respect for pelvic exams. If that's the normal way, how many guys out there have never been tested?

Probs

@whateverlolawants that's the normal way, I believe. It's basically a very, very long q-tip up your urethra. It certainly made me reconsider whether hookups/one-night-stand type things were worth it. It's a perspective-bringing activity.

wharrgarbl

@whateverlolawants That would be the test for asymptomatic gonorrhea or chlamydia, I believe.

Probs

@wharrgarbl yeah, you're right, I should have been more specific. That's if you're like, "gimme the full run up! My health care ends on my birthday and like hell am I giving my new girlfriend an STI if I can help it, she's awesome, so swab me, doc!" Hypothetically, I mean.

Lola P.

@whateverlolawants nope, we don't do that anymore! thank fuckin' god, that shit is brutal. now you just pee in a cup.

seriously, tell every dude you know: GO FORTH, GET TESTED WITHOUT SWAB FEAR.

Lola P.

@whateverlolawants that being said, you bring up an excellent point about inspiring pelvic exam respect in the penis population.

whateverlolawants

@Lola McClure The Penis Population. If I ever start a band...

DrFeelGood

@worldoftin That's it. Forced castration for non-complaints. Oh I'm sorry your poor fucking precious balls, meanwhile I'll just bleed like crazy 8 days out of the month, feel like a 65 ton beached sperm whale for several days before that, get a piece of copper shoved up my cervix with no sort of anesthetic, all so you can have sex with me. So yes, no more sex for you.

Craftastrophies

@DrFeelGood I maintain that if men had periods, they would have a 'cure' for them by now.

DrFeelGood

@Craftastrophies Absolutely. If men had children, we'd have free, socialized child-care in this country and no repercussions for stepping away from work for maternity leave. Also, free birth control, and you'd never have to have a period if you didn't want it - none of this because the catholic church wants us to have periods, therefore you have to have a period on hormonal BC. If men had babies, they'd literally be handing out vats of birth control on every street corner. Instead, men have dicks, and Viagra is covered by every major insurance provider, because getting an erection is more important than preventing pregnancy.

laurel

I am so excited by this info and its presence on the Hairpin that my reading comprehension went out the window and I had to read it twice. I have so many thoughts and feelings about this, including:

Everytime I read about some amazing new life-extending (for rich westerners, you know, the people who use the most natural resources) technology, I want to give all my money (such as it is) to someone, anyone, researching new forms of BC.

Can advocating for this be Planned Parenthood's future? If men understood how many services PP provides men, maybe they'd be more broadly supported.

Hey, Eleanor. Tweet this mofo so I can retweet it.

panquecito

"With all the furor going on about female reproductive rights, I think shifting the dialogue to empowering all humans to choose their own adventures would be constructive."

YES. A+ work, Eleanor Ray!

wee_ramekin

You guys!

Here is a thing that we can do!

I found a male contraception initiative website that asks readers to sign their petition telling potential funders that they would be interested in this product. I don't know how much good our signing it will do, but it's better than nothing!

Go here; the link for the petition is about halfway down the first page.

laurel

@wee_ramekin Your link isn't working for me.

wee_ramekin

@wee_ramekin Hmmm, my link didn't work. Here it is again!

Also, @laurel, I saw your comment in my inbox because I get e-mails when someone comments on a thread I'm in, but I can't see your comment showing up on the site! Can anyone else see her comment?

laurel

@wee_ramekin Hmm, I can see it, so IDK.

Yesterday I found I couldn't see my comments when I was logged out of the 'Pin. 'Not sure if others could see them while I was logged out. OMG, maybe I've died and I don't know it! Am I Ghost? Maybe I'm Ghost? Maybe I'm just your Ghost in your email alerts instead of your phone?

wee_ramekin

@laurel Via the e-mail alerts, I saw that you commented again, but still can't seeeeeee youuuuuu here. Maybe you ARE My Ghost?!?! I loved your idea about tweeting about this to the FDA and Planned Parenthood, and I wanted everyone else to see it!

(*Also, everyone, I would like to point out that @laurel is definitely commenting on this thread, and I am not hallucinating/taking mind-altering drugs right now.)

laurel

@wee_ramekin Anyway, I signed the petition you linked to and wrote them an email suggesting a petition via Change.org. They've had some high-profile successes lately.

/wondering if I'm talking to myself.

wee_ramekin

@laurel I can see you now! But only just this last comment about Change.org.

ETA: Yeah, grrrl, there is definitely something wrong with your account. I can see this last comment, so I clicked on your username and looked at your comment history. You've been making a ton of comments that aren't showing up! For instance, if you go into your comment history and click on the comment where you tell @JaneMarie that the Wired link isn't working, it doesn't jump to your comment [which I assume you made....in the comment-thread of the first comment on this post?], it only jumps to the article page.

EDITED ETA: Now the comment about Change.org is gone!!! Where arrrrrrrrre youuuuuuuu?!

laurel

@wee_ramekin Eesh. Thank you for checking it out for me. I'll let HPHQ know then repost the tweets about the FDA and PP.

redheaded&crazy

@wee_ramekin she's gaunting you

wallsdonotfall

@wee_ramekin This happens to me ALL THE TIME, both with my own comments and mystery-emailed ones. Hairpin, what is happening?!

Czarna_Owca

@wee_ramekin I followed your link (thanks!) and two things, both relating to the same bit. First, the caption: "This RISUG volunteer, an army officer, seemed surprised when we asked why he chose sterilization rather than asking his wife to get it. His answer: Male sterilization is simpler and safer. Why would anybody put his wife at risk?" High five, dude! Second, his picture. Everyone should go look at it because I think you can see his surprise at the question and it's adorable.

wee_ramekin

@Czarna_Owca I know! I loved that dude! It made me tear up a little from happiness/frustration that his attitude isn't more widely shared.

laurel

Lalala, 'just commenting alone here in my invisible solo universe where no one can read my sparkling valuable important contributions. Perhaps The Hairpin comments will be my own personal Livejournal from now on.

Overpopulation and family planning are things that interest me. A lot. They underpin so many of the issues--economic and educational achievement for women, access to high quality health care and public education, combating global climate change, protecting water quality, conservation of wildlife habitat, reducing the stresses in men's lives, etc.,--that concern me personally and professionally.

So today I went nuts over on Twitter where I pestered @PP, @HouseCommerce, @SenateApprops (committees that oversee the FDA) and @FDACBER (the science and research arm of the FDA) about this story. I also prodded the Male Conraception Information Project about doing a change.org petition. It seems they've been part of some high-profile successes recently (Trayvon Martin (2.2 million signatures), pink slime (250K), MPAA rating for Bullying (500K), etc.

Did you know that Planned Parenthood has just 50K followers on Twitter? Ashton Kutcher has 10.2 million.

I missed you, Hairpin.

wee_ramekin

@laurel I can see you now! :)

laurel

@wee_ramekin Yay! Thank you for your help yesterday.

splendorofmorgan

Just read the pertinent details out loud to the boyfriend. He was not convinced, but I totally am. Next stop: India!

alix_rae

ugh, sent this to my boyfriend and he is not enthused. trying not to feel enraged because otherwise he is awesome, offers to help pay for my pills, etc. but he read it and said his gut reaction was he just couldn't do it to his precious testicles. he did say he might be more receptive to a pill form. but still. "Suck. It. Up." also i have been talking to him for several months about how badly i would like to get off of hormonal birth control.

it would be nice for him to share some of the responsibility besides agreeing to use a condom when i forget to take the pill. team curry/no babies!

laurel

@alix_rae You can go off the pill whenever you want. Contraception is not only your responsibility.

OxfordComma

@alix_rae : Same with mine!

God.

Is it because men are trained from birth to believe that their nuts are the "family jewels", while we are trained from birth to believe that our vaginas and wombs are purely functional?

SO SICK OF THAT SHIT.

Saskquatch

@alix_rae If you really want to stop taking them why don't you stop taking them? The hormones are making you unreasonable and impulsive (right?? nudge, nudge) so you just HAD IT and stopped.
My pills did actually kind of do that, a little but mostly it was more of a "this is what is happening, your opinion is not relevant" update to boyfriend.

alix_rae

@Saskquatch yeah, the only reason i'm still taking them is because I'm so terrified of getting pregnant :( and i don't trust condoms by themselves. my naturopath told me to do condoms and spermicide, and that it's actually more effective than the pill (according to her). so maybe i'll try that?

We had a long talk/argument about it and I think it boiled down to he wants me to do whatever makes me happy and healthy, and I was mad that he wouldn't consider ball surgery when I had considered an IUD.

Saskquatch

@alix_rae I understand, glad my comment didn't offend. Sounds like you'll figure out what's best for you. Mr. and I use just condoms, have for um...6 years now?...no end in sight. My only regret is for the enviornment, but with the whole bc hormones don't break down and are changing the sex of sea creatures thing...no bad feelings. Only sexy times.

whateverlolawants

@Saskquatch If you made new humans, that would have a far greater environmental impact. So don't feel bad. (No hatin' on all you happy parents out there. I'm glad my parents had me, etc.)

Craftastrophies

@alix_rae On the one hand, I can see how this is fairly hypothetical and not that big a deal. On the other hand, that attitude makes me actually inarticulate with rage. If it were 'I would prefer not to do that, it makes me feel weird, but I see the practicality of it', fine. But 'nooo my precious man bits' is... privileged as fuck.

Take some hypothetical responsibility, dude. You wanna have sex, you deal with the consequences.

I'm sorry for being mad at your boyfriends, I feel weird about that...

mackymoo

@alix_rae I was pissed at my boyfriend for reacting negatively too. To be fair, my phrasing was more or less "look at this thing you can do to your balls so I don't have to pump my body full of hormones!" So then he was like hey I've never forced you to take them, and I was like oh yeah I'm not actually taking them am I? But seriously, stop being such a drama queen.

alix_rae

@mackymoo YES this was exactly our conversation! I apparently made it sound like he was forcing me to be the one taking birth control in the relationship. it took me a while to realize he was mad and feeling like i had lumped him into some gross patriarchal category of controlling women's bodies, etc.

then i also related all this to the ongoing debate of what our hypothetical future kids' last names will be. when he talks about it, i hear "i think it's great that progress has been made and i think things are definitely unfair, but i just don't think i could give up the privilege i was born with of not worrying about birth control/getting pregnant/changing my last name/changing my future kids' last names."

this also had to happen via mobile gchat while he's halfway around the world at a conference. oops.

brigid j barry@twitter

There is local anaesthetic for the cervix. For some reason doctors are super stingy with it but it definitely exists.

Nicole Cliffe

Yeah, be pushy. I had natural goddamn childbirth, but I can't get a pap smear without crying. Your cervix is meant to allow things out, not in.

sovereignann@twitter

@brigid j barry@twitter Where were you when I was having a biopsy? I told her, "You know if you were removing something from my arm or even my boob, there would be some kind of anaesthetic." She finished and handed me some Advil and a pad.

So again gentlemen, to echo a couple of commenters Suck. It. Up.

brooklebee

@brigid j barry@twitter Yep! In the clinic I went to in Vancouver, Canada (where I live and got my IUD even though I am American), they use it regularly. I think it is the same stuff the dentist uses on your gums? I remember the name sounding familiar.

Oh Canada! I love thee. Especially for not being crazy about sensible (reproductive) health care.

EpWs

@brigid j barry@twitter There totally is! There is there is! When I had my LEEP you can bet your ass I had a local all up in my cervix business. The thought of going otherwise is...unpleasant.

Lola P.

@brigid j barry@twitter yup, definitely exists, although it's used more frequently for things like abortions and LEEPs. i should have mentioned that in the IUD article, but it's not routinely used for IUD insertion for a few diff reasons.

Lola P.

@Lola McClure if anyone's interested or wants to ask for it specifically, it's called a "paracervical block" and it's typically done with lidocaine.

brooklebee

@Lola McClure I'm curious: what are the reasons? I certainly appreciated it when I was offered it during my IUD insertion.

Lola P.

@brooklebee yeah! it's a great question. it seems like a fine point i don't really understand myself (clinical practice is hell of varied) but i'll do my best.

sort of the basic idea with all pelvic exams is that the second that speculum goes in, the Extreme Discomfort Clock starts ticking. you and me both want that speculum out as fast as possible, and inserting the IUD itself is very, very quick.

in the time it takes to do a paracervical block--the time it takes to prepare it, then waiting the 2-3-ish minutes for max pain-relieving effect--you could have got the whole thing over already. so on one hand, yes, possibly more pain relief. on the other hand, the pinch of the injections and doubling the 5ish minutes it takes to insert the IUD, which means more ughhh speculum time. RISKS AND BENEFITS!

(i must mention that causing other people pain, no matter how "necessary," never, ever gets any easier)

Eleanor Hazard Ray@twitter

@Lola McClure Thanks for clarifying, Lola! I hate to misinform folks.

EpWs

@Lola McClure This is why we <3 you, Lola. Thanks!

whateverlolawants

@Lola McClure This is probably a stupid question, but couldn't there be a gel squirted in the area first? Or would it get in the way/not be strong enough?

Lola P.

@Eleanor Hazard Ray@twitter no problem. the true issue at hand is how there isn't much good research on cervical analgesia so that we can standardize this shit once and for all.

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher i love you guys too! yall don't even know.

@whateverlolawants this is the exact opposite of a stupid question--it's some damn good thinking. i asked my attending and she said there's a bunch of reasons why: (1) the cervix is a muscle and the nerves that you need to numb are 2-3 inches into it, so it would be hard for the gel to penetrate (2) the fluid in the vagina washes/diffuses it all away. but i believe it can be used for things that are on the surface of the vagina, like a LEEP/cone biopsy.

Lola P.

@Lola McClure *surface of the cervix

whateverlolawants

@Lola McClure Wow, thanks for the info! Interesting.

Don
Don

LADIES,

Here is how we sell this:

Sperm is made in a man's body throughout his entire life. GROW SOME BALLS. Keep your sperm.

A rumor worth starting.

Craftastrophies

@Don No one is stealing YOUR Yang energy, amiright?

heartubleachie

Related story: Three Easy Ways to Apply Perfect Eyeliner. WTF algorithm does The Hairpin use to link blog posts? This is great.

heartubleachie

@heartubleachie, Also, yes, I will click on that link thankyouverymuch.

peach

Anyone else read Bonk? Besides having an awesome name, it's an excellent, fun, book about sex. It talks about Vasalgel and is the first time I heard about it.

http://www.amazon.com/Bonk-The-Curious-Coupling-Science/dp/0393334791/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334267607&sr=8-1

idealogicRoom

I've flip-flopped on this issue, but am now a firm believer that this is the logical choice for any man in a long-term committed relationship.
That being said, I think there are a few issues concerning birth control/contraception that need consideration:
- There needs to be a way for men to opt out of an unwanted pregnancy and not be legally obligated to provide for an unwanted child
- Pregnancy effects women significantly more than men.

Thoughts?

queenofbithynia

@idealogicRoom "There needs to be a way for men to opt out of an unwanted pregnancy"

Oh, is nobody else dumb enough to jump on this one? OK, I'll do it!

The way for men to opt out of "an" (weirdly depersonalized way of saying "their," no?) unwanted pregnancy is to get an abortion. I know that trans men, the only men for whom this could be an issue, can face extra obstacles to accessing such health services, but the laws themselves and the medical process aren't actually any different for men than they are for women, are they?

If you weren't talking about pregnant men, maybe you didn't know that there is already absolutely no obligation whatsoever for men to participate in anyone else's pregnancy. They do not have to help any pregnant woman (or man) deal with her or his checkups, labor, delivery, hospital stays, lost wages, buying maternity clothes - none of it. Opting out of unwanted pregnancy is a done deal and always has been.

In fact, if a man wanted to opt in to a wanted pregnancy, he'd be out of luck -- financial help, moral support and a comforting presence is all that medical science and the laws of physics allow him to provide.

Sorry you didn't know!

idealogicRoom

@queenofbithynia

As far as I know, a man is required to pay child support if he is the biological father of the child. This is a necessity if the child was had under the belief that the man would provide for the child. I believe that, in the case of an unwanted pregnancy, a man should be able to inform the woman that he is not interested in having the child and "opt out" of legal responsibilities for the child.

boxofcams

@idealogicRoom I don't know if by "opt out" you mean that there should be a way more effective than condoms for a man to take control of his own reproductive future (i.e. RISUG/Vasalgel), or whether you mean that by telling a female sexual partner that he doesn't want to be a father, that he should not be held legally responsible if an accidental pregnancy results from the sex they have. Or something else?

boxofcams

@idealogicRoom If you mean that he shouldn't be held responsible if he is mislead to believe that she is taking the pill or has an IUD because she wants to get pregnant and he doesn't want to help with that (which I hope you're not suggesting is a common concern, because who believes that is common practice among women?) then the option presented by RISUG/Vasalgel to take his reproductive capabilities into his own hands would be a way to guard against that.

[EDIT: I don't want to accuse you of suggesting this if you're not, I just don't understand what you mean and if you could clarify it would help]

wharrgarbl

@queenofbithynia I think you're dismissing this fabulous idea prematurely. I mean, think about it. Wouldn't it be fantastic to not even have to pretend you're running to the store for milk when you decide to leave and never come back? We could just be all "Hey, babe, I'm opting out of being legally responsible for this unwanted child!" It would come in hella handy when they want to start driving and the insurance company wants a million dollars per month because they're a teen. I'd be way more comfortable becoming a parent if I could ditch all legal responsibility to the resultant spawn just by going "One, two, three--not it!"

idealogicRoom

@boxofcams
"whether you mean that by telling a female sexual partner that he doesn't want to be a father, that he should not be held legally responsible if an accidental pregnancy results from the sex they have."

This ^

A woman should be able to have an abortion.
A man should be able to opt out of financial responsibility in an unwanted pregnancy.

boxofcams

@idealogicRoom

Oh! I do see the parallel you're making, but it's not really an equal parallel, is it. Unwanted pregnancies aren't only unwanted by men, and abortions are not always confronted only by women without the consideration of the other person involved in starting the pregnancy (although it does come down to her right to choose whether or not she stays pregnant). I don't agree that a man should be able to say that he doesn't want to be involved, so since his pregnant partner is free to have an abortion she must either do so or go through with it alone. Instead anyone risking this outcome by having sex with someone he/she could reproduce with should maybe TALK about how they think they would be willing to consider addressing an accident if it did happen. At least once. You can’t be expected to have an abortion because you CAN; that limits your choice just as much as not allowing you to have one.

You can’t promise that you will or won’t have an abortion if you got pregnant, and can only make that decision once you’re in the position to, but it’s definitely healthy for you and your partner to have an idea of where the other stands when it comes to the potential for this actually happening to the two of you, and it should not be left on a woman to either choose to have an abortion she may not be comfortable with or raise a child on her own. Both know the risks, and both hopefully have the emotional maturity to understand that each of the many options available may turn out to be incredibly difficult or surprisingly simple to face when it comes down to it, and that whatever choice is made could affect them both.

idealogicRoom

@boxofcams
I'm discussing this issue from a legal standpoint. It is legal for a woman to have an abortion, regardless of the man's opinion. It is illegal for a man to "opt out." I do not think this is fair.

boxofcams

@idealogicRoom The thing is for a woman to opt out involves doing things to her body that she may not be comfortable with, for a man it doesn't.

DrFeelGood

@idealogicRoom There's a big difference between an abortion and bringing a child into the world. If you stick your dick in it - well sorry, you've already given consent to be financially obligated to that potential fetus some day. Sex = consent to be a parent, especially for a dude. Sorry, but that's kind of basic facts here. Don't like it? Get a vasectomy, be celibate, or maybe you should be fighting for better male birth control than fighting the legality of child support. Really disgusting.

DrFeelGood

@wharrgarbl RIght because NO ONE has defrauded their children through witholding child support. Novel fucking concept here. Ugh. I think he was looking for AskMen.com and took a wrong turn somewhere.

gtrachel

@DrFeelGood That's right. If a man doesn't consent to be a father, then it behooves him to wrap it up carefully, or get a procedure that will prevent this from happening. Women don't get to "opt out" -- abortion is a big fucking deal and not everyone can get one. If you're going around distributing your semen, you've got to take responsibility for what might happen with it.

Craftastrophies

@idealogicRoom I think there are at least two separate things here: physical responsibility for growing another human and pushing it out of an orifice, which only the person with the uterus (often but not always a woman) can do. The other is emotional and/or financial responsibility for said child.

So, apart from bringing the person physically into the world, the betesticled-person's part of which is over early in the game, and is easily avoided with condoms, surgery, celibacy, or a combination of those, there is the responsibility to care for this new human.

Both parents can give up the baby for adoption, thus forfeiting any further financial responsibility for said baby. (I realise this is not as easy as that make sit sound.)

Apart from that, I realise it's rough to be dealing with a financial and possibly emotional drain that you didn't plan for. For either parent. But the thing with abortion is that it's a super intense physical deal. I don't feel that you should be able to coerce someone into undergoing surgery, anymore than you should be able to coerce them to carry around another human for the better part of a year. So the only practical thing is to deal with the consequences at the other end.

I can understand your argument in the abstract - personally, I am keen to avoid any children that I need to be responsible for in any way. But be careful with it, because it comes really close to sounding like 'my right to have lots of random sex and never deal with the consequences is greater than my partner's right not to undergo traumatic physical events and/or be left to deal with our mutual mistake by themselves.' I'm pretty sure that's not what you mean, but it's getting close. As I and other people said, if you feel that strongly about it, protect your precious life seed better and use a condom/get a vasectomy. If the thought of the latter makes you feel queasy, maybe you have some idea of how many people feel about the concept of having an abortion/carrying a pregnancy.

D.@twitter

@idealogicRoom Man, what color is the sky on your planet? I /would/ like to live in this place where errant fathers actually take responsibility for offspring b/c they are compelled to do so by a law which is so respected that doesn't have to be enforced--often at great expense to the beleaguered mother, IF she can even track down the father.

idealogicRoom

@D.@twitter

The man is still legally responsible. I'm not discussing whether the law is enforced or not.

idealogicRoom

@DrFeelGood
Whether or not men have defrauded their errant children has nothing to do with the legal responsibilities.
Just because a man doesn't do something, doesn't mean he isn't legally obliged to do something.

idealogicRoom

@gtrachel
"@DrFeelGood That's right. If a man doesn't consent to be a father, then it behooves him to wrap it up carefully, or get a procedure that will prevent this from happening. Women don't get to "opt out" -- abortion is a big fucking deal and not everyone can get one. If you're going around distributing your semen, you've got to take responsibility for what might happen with it.'

Abortion is "opting out." If a woman is not ready to have/be responsible for a child she can make a choice, a very serious one, but she can still decide not to have the child. A man has no such option.
By your logic, "A woman who doesn't want to be a mother should abstain from sex."

Thanks Mr. Santorum.

idealogicRoom

@Craftastrophies
"Both parents can give up the baby for adoption, thus forfeiting any further financial responsibility for said baby. (I realise this is not as easy as that make sit sound.)"

I don't believe a man can give a child up for adoption without the consent of the woman. If the woman decides to have and raise the child the man is still financially responsible.

I understand that an abortion is a very tramautic event, but it is still an option. A man has no option. Would you find the notion of a man "opting out" more acceptable if he suffered some intense physical pain?

KatPruska

@idealogicRoom It's just biology, son. It's tough on you, I know, this one tiny aspect of the world that can't be made totally equal or "fair" in men's favor, but suck it up buttercup. YOUR option is to plug up your tubes or wear a condom and accept the fact that sticking your dick in someone with a functional uterus might result in a pregnancy. Women have more options (sometimes...and in the US, increasingly less and less access and more invasive, rapey hoops to jump through) after the fact. Tough shit.

Also, your argument is neither interesting, compelling, or new.

idealogicRoom

@KatPruska
So you believe reproductive rights is an issue where we shouldn't strive for equality?

DrFeelGood

Guys. Let's stop feeding the troll. Also his name is idea logic room. Ironic?

idealogicRoom

@DrFeelGood
I'm not advocating that a man should have any say in a woman's decision to have an abortion. It's her body, the decision is solely up to her. What I am advocating is that a man should have the equal right if he is involved in an unplanned pregnancy. He should be able to inform the woman that he is not ready to be a father and be released of all financial responsibilities. In my opinion, this seems fair. If you don't think so can you give reasons as to why it's not fair.

DrFeelGood

@idealogicRoom Actually, I can give a reason why it's " fair" (although why legal = fairness, don't know where you got that idea... slavery, jim crow, women not having the right to vote, DADT, Citizens United - all legal at points, all totally unfair).

Anyway, my point is that you are entering a non-verbal, but legally binding contract when you have sexual intercourse with someone. Because, despite all your preparation, a child could be a product of this event. Your consent to raising or at minimum, providing some financial support, is given in your sexual consent. That, IMHO, is EXTREMELY FAIR. You are not being forced to have sex, you are consenting, and just like many verbal/social contracts, your consent is given by engaging in the act itself. Like, you don't hit another car and not leave a note with your insurance info - this is not written down for you to sign when you buy a car, but it is a legally binding, non-spoken contract that you consent to in the mere fact of operating a vehicle. Same with your penis. When you choose to operate it in a vagina, it is a non-verbal, legally binding contract, that you will be obligated to the human result of that event.

You are basically proposing we return to a Dickensian england, where men could shirk from any legal or financial obligation to children - say, hey, kid, I don't want to raise or pay for your raising. That worked out sooo well, didn't it! Little homeless bastards running around cause Dad didn't feel like raising them and Mom couldn't support them on her own.

You are basically putting women down at the same time, by saying hey - I don't feel like paying for it. Like I said, you already agreed to pay for it, since you are having consensual sex. Why do women understand this? Oh yea, we're the ones getting pregnant. This is part of the understanding of what results from sex. It has only been in the last 50 years that we could even conceive (heh) of sex without children being the natural result. This work (BC) has fallen entirely to women, child-rearing falls largely to women, and the state has recognized that it is inherently better for society to have mothers and children who are not dependent entirely on society/the state, and therefore, when it is necessary, child support will be a reasonable cause of action.

Now we can talk about alimony, which is actually being challenged in many states - a hold over from days when women weren't going to be re-entering the work force after divorce, which is an antiquated system. A lot of men (and women) are unjustly penalized by the alimony system, but you cannot logically argue away the necessity of child support, sorry!

DrFeelGood

@idealogicRoom Also, financial obligation does not equal fatherhood. Child support is the exact mechanism that has been put in place to provide for children whose parent(s) do not want to be actively involved or are not ready or willing to be parents. So if you sleep with someone, you have a child, and you do not want to be a father, child support is your ticket out. Since when did a check mean you're a daddy?

redheaded&crazy

@DrFeelGood yeah i just wanna say you nailed it with your second to last comment.

idealogicRoom

@DrFeelGood
Thank you for the response.

The problem I have with your argument is that only the man is forced to enter into a social contract. If a woman gets pregnant she has no obligation to give birth to the child.

I don't understand how I'm putting down women. I believe that this surgery is a wonderful advancement in reproductive rights and that men and women should both have access to affordable contraception. With the addition of "opting out", this would ensure that someone was only responsible for a child if they chose to be.

Elizabeth Smith@facebook

@queenofbithynia You are my hero.

Elizabeth Smith@facebook

@idealogicRoom If fairness is important, then the mother should also have the option of leaving her child entirely to the father to raise. But to really be fair, we should ALSO make it so than all men can get pregnant from sexual intercourse as well. That way both parties are taking the same risks when sexing each other, and have the same legal and medical options.

idealogicRoom

@Elizabeth Smith@facebook
First, a mother has the option of an abortion and to put the child up for adoption.
Second, if it was possible, it would be fantastic if men could get pregnant.

Elizabeth Smith@facebook

@idealogicRoom Yeah, I guess it would be ideal if there were no gender, really, like earthworms. But in the real world, biology is not "fair". DrFeelGood summed it up nicely, these are just risks that you take when you consent to sexual intercourse. Even if you take every precaution, there is a tiny chance you might have a child. If she decides to raise that child, you have already agreed to partially pay it for 18 years, by having sex with her. It may not seem fair, but that's life. Besides, the state would never allow this "opting out" precedent to be set, or there would suddenly be all these single parents completely dependent on welfare. (P.S. THAT'S ALMOST HOW IT ALREADY IS, BECAUSE NON-CUSTODIAL PARENTS AVOID PAYING CHILD SUPPORT ALL THE TIME)

OxfordComma

BRING.

IT.

ON.

Since I have have suicidal ideation with every single goddamn pill I've tried, and I know I'm not alone in that, we *need* another viable option.

Bring on the Vasagel, y'all!

leastimportantperson

@OxfordComma Yes! Part of what I liked so much about reading this piece is how it relates to the issue you're bringing up. It is disgusting to see efforts to roll back access to birth control. No question. At the same time, it always makes me a little sad that we have to defend these options as though they are PERFECT, because I'm like, man, EVERY girl I know has had issues of one kind or another with some form of BC. Every single one. Depression, suicidal ideation, weight gain, loss of sex drive, latex allergy, UTIs, spotting, alllllll manner of trouble with IUDs. We need better options, and we shouldn't have to spend all our energy insisting that the ones we have not be taken away.

gtrachel

@leastimportantperson I agree about the need for better options -- particularly for men, and we also need to shift a sense of responsibility onto men who seem to think it's not their prerogative -- but I just wanted to say that I LOVE my birth control. It makes my whole life better: it stabilizes my weight; renders my periods predictable, painless, and light; and just generally makes me much happier to be alive.

leastimportantperson

@gtrachel This is also definitely true! It just seems sort of alarming to me that women are encouraged by their doctors to experiment with BC pills that sometimes make them suicidal. I'm like, really? That's just sort of business as usual? I must protest!

Cupcake Coven

@leastimportantperson THIS.

Lola P.

this was great! i appreciate the shoutout, too. i'm sorry to whomever my articles have terrified, as my primary intention is the opposite.

Eleanor Hazard Ray@twitter

@Lola McClure Hey Lola, thanks! It was a great article, and I really didn't mean my piece to sound so negative about IUDs; obviously they are super awesome for some people, and definitely one of the best options currently available.

gtrachel

@Lola McClure I loved your IUD article. If they start threatening to take away my hormones in Colorado, I'm getting one.

DrFeelGood

OK so - this is the most ahhmazing idea ever.

Also, any dude who is NOT ON BOARD, I will personally visit your house and shove an IUD up your urethra (sans local anesthetic) and see how you fucking like it.

Ham Snadwich

@DrFeelGood - Yeah...that's creepy.

DrFeelGood

@DrFeelGood Sorry... t'was feeling a little rage-y at 3 AM, due to the fact that some dude up-thread was bemoaning the fact that as a man, the ONE thing he can't control is whether or not a woman he has impregnated is going to have the baby or not. But taking control of his ability to reproduce, well, that's not an option! This sentiment just seems so characteristic of the whole debate - like hey ladies, not only are you responsible, 100% for the baby making facilities (even though I contribute to it), I also want to be able to opt out of being financially or legally responsible for any child we may produce, but I in no way want to compromise or even think about my own agency in this situation.

Ham Snadwich

@DrFeelGood - Oh yeah, well, that dude's a douche. Carry on. Well, don't jam a piece of metal into my urethra, but otherwise, carry on.

Oh, squiggles

Read parts of this to my dude yesterday, and he was enraged. He was all on board for this procedure, and quite upset that it is not available in the U.S.

larry

I would be first in line to get RISUG, as long as there are no side effects.
I very much would like to be responsible of my reproduction and would like to take the burden off my female spouse.
I believe the only reason this is not developed or even known in the US is because of the greed of the birth control making companies.
ladies ! there are destroying your bodies and your hormone system for money !
we guys will never have a worry about unwanted pregnancy after the RISUG magical fix. (10 years ! woa! and it's reversible !)
you can read more about this or stay updated here:
http://www.newmalecontraception.org/

this is the best site I found on the subject after googling about RISUG and male contraception.

larry

this RISUG should be published on every female board in the world.
no more birth control to remember to take, a lifetime saving of money, no more worries the day after - I can't believe the feminist parties are not all over this - pushing it forward.
spread the word, girls would really benefit from hyping this thing.

len132

There are two issues that I wonder about when I hear about this. First of all, the patent law. I'm in a biotechnology class right now, and let me tell you- patent law is way more complicated than I ever thought. The applications are thousands of pages long, and have to be separately filed in each country. On this note, there have been issues with patents between India and the US. This could present problems in who could sell it here and who would support the patent application. Because the USDA would need loads of clinical trials and research before they allowed it to be marketed. This could cost millions, and a company isn't going to support it if there might be patent issues.

Also, I'd like to see the peer-reviewed papers. I don't think we can really assess the validity of the study before we see the sources.

Kati Taylor@facebook

I don't see why creating a female version is a bad thing. I think the male version should be tested and put out on the market as well as a female version. I don't know about any other woman, but ten years of perfect or near perfect protection without relying on a pill that has all these complications, or condoms that sometimes break.

I know most of my guy friends would be lining up at the door for a chance to get that shot nor can I think of too many of my girl friends that wouldn't want to consider it.

Kimberly Neville@facebook

Kati I absolutely agree with you - rights are equal and it is better to have both versions in access. Also I supposed this way will work better that other contemporary ways of contraception.
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Pajamaralways

Don't know if this comment will ever get read, but I wanted to point out that Vasalgel is on facebook now if you want updates!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vasalgel/247731291917372

Nicole Murray@twitter

>(did you know that women are now chattel in Georgia?).

No, they aren't.
http://nicoleamurray.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/read-your-bills/

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