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will they give it a shot?
does injected contraceptive show promise?
by ellen marsh

Researchers have announced a possible new male contraceptive—an injection that prompts an immune reaction to a protein produced in the male reproductive system. Initial assessment of this new birth control method assumes that it might replace condoms and vasectomies as a method of choice.

Unfortunately, while I admit this method has the potential to replace some vasectomies, I think it is highly unlikely to replace condoms.

Why is it unlikely that this injection will replace condoms? Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve been astounded by the number of men who are needle phobic. As a case in point, my ex-father-in-law once signed a release after refusing a tetanus shot when being treated for a puncture wound acquired from stepping on a rusty nail in a farmyard. Other men in my family have done their utmost to avoid needles of any kind. Having blood drawn or getting an inoculation is a daunting endeavor.

Have you ever said the word “vasectomy” aloud in a room full of men? There is a uniform reaction: each man crosses his legs and squirms visibly. Audible groans sometimes accompany the squirming. For this reason alone, the injection might replace many vasectomies. In addition, vasectomies are difficult, if not impossible, to reverse; the effects of the injection wear off, reversing the contraceptive effect. So, the prick of a needle is like to be perceived as less threatening and less permanent than genital surgery.

So far, the injection has been tested only on monkeys, who obviously have had no choice in the matter. Nonetheless, one can imagine if they were given a choice, they too might have chosen to use a condom.

However, one of the reasons condoms are chosen by humans is that they provide a barrier between partners, usually assuring so-called “safe sex.” The injection does not provide a barrier, so one would assume that it would be chosen, as would a vasectomy, only in a committed and safe relationship.

Frankly, I don’t think this new shot has much of future, except perhaps in providing birth control to captive and unsuspecting monkeys.


Ellen's recreational writing relieves the stress of working at an insane biotech company. She has too to do (and re-do) every week, because of the knee-jerk, fire-fighting mentality of the management team.

more about ellen marsh


tracey kelley
11.17.04 @ 2:04p

If it were 100% effective, cheaper than the Pill, and their girlfriends really pushed them, yes, I think most men would use this. Even if the shot bothered them.

But I don't think they'd seek it out.

mike julianelle
11.17.04 @ 2:19p

Fuck shots! Or should I say: fuck-shots!

robert melos
11.17.04 @ 4:59p

Frankly, men are still rather irresponsible. Even aside from needles, I just think most men wouldn't want to be bothered to go get a shot. Notice in our society how contraceptives fall to the woman's responsibility.

Look at television commercials. They usually are aimed at the women to take responsibility, to ask the man if he has condoms, to insist the man wear a condom. How often do you see a commercial aimed at the man to remember to wear a condom, or to buy them.

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