How the Pill changed the World, and the Fertility Problems It's Causing Women:
"But forget a male Pill: With the high cost of clinical trials, the lack of interest in upending cultural norms, and the need to make a pill with zero side effects (after all, this Pill is being taken by a man), this formulation hasn’t gone much beyond forays in the mid-sixties, when a male Pill, tested in Oregon prisons, turned men’s eyeballs red when combined with alcohol."
As a result of my parent's educations and interests, I grew up in a home that included regular frank dinner table conversations about issues such as sex, reproduction, sexually transmitted diseases, prenatal genetic testing, abortion, circumcision and breastfeeding. I went to a high school that had its own daycare. When I was 18, I was a prenatal partner and labour coach for a friend who got pregnant for the second time and couldn't emotionally handle another abortion. I started on birth control pills at age 18, before I'd even had sex. I have an undergraduate degree in human genetics. When I turned 25, my father (somewhat jokingly) started the fertility countdown, reminding me on my birthday exactly how many "optimally fertile" years I had left (10).
When I was 29, well-employed and married, I decided I should probably get started on getting knocked-up. I didn't feel ready to have kids (hell, I still don't: I still have a student loan for christsakes!) but my similar-cohort friends were starting and, counting backwards from 35, I knew that if I wanted to squeeze out a couple of kids with some space between them without having a significantly higher risk of having to make a horrible a life/death decision about a wanted baby with genetic defects, I should get started soon.
It took me 6 months to get pregnant and I was shocked.
Despite my upbringing, my education and all my knowledge, I was still operating under the high school sex-ed brainwashed belief that I would get pregnant merely by coming within a few feet of a single, semi-viable sperm. Because high school girls can and do. Everyday. A sad slap in the face to every woman in her late 20s or 30s trying to get pregnant.
Now I know I was lucky to get pregnant so easily.
Rather than the youthful discussions of nightmare-inducing concerns about birth control failures, my friends now can all quote passages from books about taking control of your fertility. They know the names of the available fertility treatments. They own ovulation kits. They've dealt with the heartbreak of miscarriages and try not to get too excited/hopeful about each missed period. They pray the rhythm method will work for them in the opposite way they used to. They keep trying and hoping but also prepare themselves for failure, costing out-of-pocket fertility treatments and researching adoption.
Now I know that I too must be prepared to not have it so easy the next time I try.
We can't blame the Pill or any other form of birth control for this situation. Humans have spent 1000s of years trying our hardest to convince ourselves we can escape the limitations of basic biology through the process of civilization. It's not a misogynist conspiracy. In matters of reproduction, men are simply lucky enough to have the better fit between the current social priorities and evolution. It's biology conflicting with economics.
However, I do think that the lack of a male birth control pill is a disgrace.
If drug companies can spend millions testing and marketing pills to give 90 year old men raging erections, then they fucking-well better be obligated to promote male responsibility for preventing the potential babies. And it shouldn't be too hard to convince them to do it. Drug companies excel at creating markets where none existed. If they can make restless legs, pet depression and age-related erectile dysfunction treatable medical conditions it shouldn't take much effort to figure out how to sell reproduction-controlling drugs to men.
Hell, I'll get started on the sales pitch for them: surely there's billions to be made by freeing men from the (potentially financial and at least mental/emotional) burden of having to trust that the skank they're banging is telling the truth when she says she's on the Pill. I can almost picture the bus ads now.