18 February 2009

Male contraceptive shot imminent

Women all over the world are celebrating. Researchers in Australia – that puddle of testosterone at the bottom of the world – have developed a male contraceptive injection.


Women all over the world are celebrating.

Researchers in Australia – that puddle of testosterone at the bottom of the world – have developed a male contraceptive injection.

At least they think they have: according to the website News-Medical.Net, researchers are looking for volunteers to take part in an 18-month trial to confirm initial findings. These suggest a 95% success rate.

Worryingly for needle-shy men, the new contraceptive is likely to involve two-monthly hormone injections. Just as progestin shuts down fertility in women, it shuts down the production of sperm and testosterone in men. Then you put back the testosterone, which is what makes men men, and voila: gonads that think they’ve produced sperm, and a fully-functional man who fires blanks every time.

Three months after the last injection, sperm production resumes as normal.

There is a compelling health argument for barrier methods of contraception, but within established monogamous relationships, they’re universally considered a bore.

According to the 2009 Great South African Sex Survey, almost a third of us (32%) use condoms for contraception/protection, while a further 30% of us use hormonal-based protection or IUDs (and some of us use both). In spite of the dominance of the male-use condom, women aren’t keen to hand responsibility for contraception/protection over to their guys: according to the survey, only 10% of women would let their partner take responsibility for keeping things tidy. Double that percentage of men say they're quite happy to let the woman handle things. So if the male contraceptive jab comes on line, perhaps we can expect to see women escorting their men to family planning clinics, and waiting in line to make sure the job gets done.

The Great South African Sex Survey ran online for five weeks over the 2008/9 holiday period and was completed by a total of 11 181 people. The responses were weighted by Hlakanaphila Analytics, using the latest variables from Statistics SA’s General Household Survey, so the survey reflects the habits and attitudes of 2,6 million urban metro adults, aged 20 years and older, who earn at least R2 500 a month.

Contraceptive issues aside, women are the more responsible sex in other ways too:

  • 1% of women have paid for sex. But then, 24% of men have.
  • Men are less likely to use protection in first-time sex with a new partner: only 40% of them used a condom the last time they got lucky, compared to 53% of women.
  • Men get around a lot more: 9% of men claim to have had more than six lovers in the past year and 7% claim they’ve had more than 30 lovers in their lives (giving the benefit of the doubt to the 10% of men who claim they can’t remember); compared to 2% of women in both cases.
  • Women concentrate more than men do. More than four out of five women (82%) can remember the names of all their sexual partners, compared to only three out of five men. Perhaps that’s a function of the fact that men are dazzled by superficial but perhaps more forgettable things (72% of them say good looks and a great body is what turns them on most to a woman). And they’re quicker on the draw: first-date sex figures for men are higher (55% compared to 40%), as are the one-night stands figures (62% and 45% respectively).
  • Men act on their fantasies more: 24% of them have had threesomes or group sex, compared to only 11% of women.

Given that both men and women own up in the survey in significant numbers to having been diagnosed with herpes, gonorrhoea, genital warts, Chlamydia and general unnamed discharges, it could be that the male contraceptive jab isn’t going to solve a hell of a lot of problems.

(Heather Parker, Health24, February 2009)

Click here to view the full sex survey results.

Also read:
Joost's penis and the SA psyche
Young parents, poor sex lives


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