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Male Birth Control Method #5: Abstinence

This method is self-explanatory. This means no sex, period. It's very easy to see that this method is 100 percent effective, all the time. However, it's also 100 percent difficult. So much so that many men wouldn't even consider abstinence to be a "real" method of birth control.
What about avoiding sex when a woman is fertile (typically during the middle of her cycle)? That is known as periodic abstinence. It can be low-tech (based on a calendar) or highly involved (involving charting, temperature taking, cervical mucus monitoring, etc.). It's not really a birth control method for men, per se, since most of the burden falls on the woman (she must calculate her fertile window and determine when sex is safe or unsafe and communicate this information to her partner).
Periodic abstinence is obviously less effective than total abstinence, but the actual effectiveness varies depending on the particular method used and how skillfully it is used and how consistently abstinence is observed.

The Future of Male Birth Control

While female birth control is big business, attempts to develop male versions of birth control have never really taken off, for various reasons. However, as men shoulder more responsibility toward their offspring (whether they want to or not), highly effective male birth control might be on the somewhat distant horizon. A few oral medications have been studied in hopes of finding a male birth control pill. However, these efforts found only limited success.
There has been some interest in a hormonal gel that is applied to the skin that can help make a man temporarily infertile. There is also talk of a pill taken before sex (much like Viagra®) that will temporarily make a man infertile.
However, the most promising male birth control method at this point is a gel-like substance that's injected into the vas deferens. It acts much like a vasectomy (blocking sperm from being released), but is less invasive and more reversible.
We're hopeful that more and more highly effective birth control methods will available to men in the future. We believe that anyone who wants to prevent pregnancy should have a reliable method to do so, whether they are male or female.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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