Menu

Male birth control is on the way 👏

A birth control gel for guys is entering phase two of clinical trials.

Male birth control is on the way 👏

When it comes to family planning, and, more specifically, preventing pregnancies, much of the responsibility rests on women. Whether it's the IUD, the shot, the patch or the pill, it's something for us to deal with and men to, well, not.

Despite all the jokes about how birth control would be sold in vending machines if men could take it, it has seemed like there's been a lack of momentum when it comes to developing hormonal contraceptives for men. But that's changing.

A birth control for men—a topical gel called NES/T—is entering phase two of clinical trials.

Real men in real relationships are going to be using the gel (which contains progestin and testosterone) to induce infertility by lowering sperm counts. The gel is applied to a man's arms and shoulders daily (which sounds a lot less invasive than some current birth control methods for women).

Christina Wang is a researcher at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute and principal investigator of the trial. Her team has been working on this stuff for almost 10 years, Gizmodo reports. "We've had over 200 men exposed to the medication, and we've never had any serious adverse events," she told Gizmodo. "But we will be monitoring everything very closely."

One of Wang's colleagues, Stephanie Page, an endocrinologist at the University of Washington, told Quartz she hopes to see more male birth control options follow the gel.

A common argument against male birth control is that men will never buy into the responsibility, but Page believes if men had more choices, they would. "If we want men to be engaged in contraception, we really need to have a menu of options for men like we do for women," Page said.

If there's one thing science has learned from female birth control, it's that not every method works for every individual. Some women can't take the pill, but do fine with the ring. Others may experience side-effects from the shot but can tolerate a hormonal IUD just fine.

It's nice that we have so many options—but it would be really nice if our partners had some, too.

Male birth control could be a game changer for women who simply can't tolerate any form of hormonal birth control, or who have medical issues that prevent them from taking it.

It could also be great for couples in the postpartum period—some mothers dealing with the hormonal fluctuations that happen during and after pregnancy aren't keen to introduce more hormones to the mix.

A birth control gel for men could be the answer couples who don't want to get pregnant again right away are looking for. And, unlike a vasectomy, it's reversible.

There are years and years of trials and further study ahead before NES/T might be stocked at a pharmacy near you, but it is promising in a way that previous attempts at male birth control haven't been.

Mama's got a lot on her plate. It would be great if dad could take the birth control off it.

You might also like:

In This Article

Tips parents need to know about poor air quality and caring for kids with asthma

There are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

When wildfires struck the West Coast in September 2020, there was a lot for parents to worry about. For parents of children with asthma, though, the danger could be even greater. "There are more than 400 toxins that are present in wildfire smoke. That can activate the immune system in ways that aren't helpful by both causing an inflammatory response and distracting the immune system from fighting infection," says Amy Oro, MD, a pediatrician at Stanford Children's Health. "When smoke enters into the lungs, it causes irritation and muscle spasms of the smooth muscle that is around the small breathing tubes in the lungs. This can lead to difficulty with breathing and wheezing. It's really difficult on the lungs."

With the added concern of COVID-19 and the effect it can have on breathing, many parents feel unsure about how to keep their children protected. The good news is that there are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

Here are tips parents need to know about how to deal with poor air quality when your child has asthma.

Minimize smoke exposure.

Especially when the air quality index reaches dangerous levels, it's best to stay indoors as much as possible. You can find out your area's AQI at AirNow.gov. An under 50 rating is the safest, but between 100-150 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children with asthma. "If you're being told to stay indoors, listen. If you can, keep the windows and doors closed," Oro says.

Do your best to filter the air.

According to Oro, a HEPA filter is your best bet to effectively clean pollutants from the air. Many homes are equipped with a built-in HEPA filter in their air conditioning systems, but you can also get a canister filter. Oro says her family (her husband and children all suffer from asthma) also made use of a hack from the New York Times and built their own filter by duct taping a HEPA furnace filter to the front of a box fan. "It was pretty disgusting what we accumulated in the first 20 hours in our fan," she says.

Avoid letting your child play outside or overly exert themselves in open air.

"Unfortunately, cloth masks don't do very much [to protect you from the smoke pollution]," Oro says. "You really need an N95 mask, and most of those have been allocated toward essential workers." To keep at-risk children safer, Oro recommends avoiding brisk exercise outdoors. Instead, set up an indoor obstacle course or challenge your family to jumping jacks periodically to keep everyone moving safely.

Know the difference between smoke exposure and COVID-19.

"COVID-19 can have a lot of the same symptoms—dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and chest pain could overlap. But what COVID and other viruses generally cause are fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches. Those would tell you it's not just smoke exposure," Oro says. When a child has been exposed to smoke, they often complain of a "scrape" in their throat, burning eyes, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain or wheezing. If the child has asthma, parents should watch for a flare of symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing or a tight sensation in their chest.

Unfortunately, not much is known about long-term exposure to wildfire smoke on a healthy or compromised immune system, but elevated levels of air pollution have been associated with increased COVID-19 rates. That's because whenever there's an issue with your immune system, it distracts your immune system from fighting infections and you have a harder time fighting off viruses. Limiting your exposure to wildfire smoke is your best bet to keep immune systems strong.

Have a plan in place if you think your child is suffering from smoke exposure.

Whatever type of medication your child takes for asthma, make sure you have it on-hand and that your child is keeping up with regular doses. Contact your child's pediatrician, especially if your area has a hazardous air quality—they may want to adjust your child's medication schedule or dosage to prevent an attack. Oro also recommends that, if your child has asthma, it might be helpful to have a stethoscope or even a pulse oximeter at home to help diagnose issues with your pediatrician through telehealth.

Most importantly, don't panic.

In some cases, social distancing and distance learning due to COVID may be helping to keep sensitive groups like children with asthma safer. Oro says wildfires in past years have generally resulted in more ER visits for children, but the most recent fires haven't seen the same results. "A lot of what we've seen is that the smoke really adversely affects adults, especially older adults over 65," Oro says. "Children tend to be really resilient."

This article was sponsored by Stanford Children's Health. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

It’s science: Vacations make your kids happy long after they’re over

Whether you're planning a quick trip to the lake or flying the fam to a resort, the results are the same: A happier, more connected family.

Whether you're looking for hotels or a rental home for a safe family getaway, or just punching in your credit card number to reserve a spot in a campground a couple of states over, the cost of vacation plans can make a mom wince. And while price is definitely something to consider when planning a family vacation, science suggests we should consider these trips—and their benefits—priceless.

Research indicates that family vacations are essential. They make our, kids (and us) happier and build bonds and memories.

Keep reading Show less
News

29 last-minute family Halloween costumes you can pull together NOW

If your little one is going as a lion, coordinating is as easy as breaking out the khaki!

Here's how Halloween unfolds in most households I know: Mom spends weeks—even months—planning the perfect costumes for little ones. Then Halloween creeps up and they realize they need an outfit to coordinate with the kids' get-ups. What's a mom to do?!

Thankfully, there's no need for fear or pressure: There are so many ideas for parents that are easy to make and still super clever.

Keep reading Show less
Life