Could male birth control be a realistic possibility in the future? The long and short answer is ‘maybe.’

The concept has been the subject of much researchspeculation and conjecture over the years, but there seems to be a chance it could come to pass and some people appear ready for it. 

A paper published in Nature last month presented findings that a single dose of a safe, acutely-acting sAC inhibitor with long residence time rendered male mice “temporarily infertile.” The researchers said they have developed a non-hormonal compound that temporarily inhibits the movement of sperm by blocking an enzyme needed to swim. 

While human trials of this type of treatment are still a ways off, the study offered promise for advocates of male birth control and prompted a slew of headlines in mainstream publications like NPR and The Wall Street Journal. Even the BBC provided a retrospective piece on why developing male contraception has been such a fraught endeavor.

In a post-Roe America, conversations around birth control have become much more serious and impactful for men and women alike as reproductive rights have been curtailed. 

This has occurred amid an ongoing fight between states, the federal government and private healthcare companies over the availability of both birth control and abortion pills in light of the Dobbs decision last June. 

The idea of male birth control is a compelling concept not only in the U.S. but in countries around the globe. 

Notably, a study funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that was presented at the Reproductive Health Innovation Summit last month found high demand for male contraceptives across eight surveyed countries. Interestingly, when it came to uptake, the fastest results based on time were in Bangladesh and Nigeria, while the U.S. finished in last.

Additionally, Deutsche Welle Science recently asked its male Twitter followers if they would take birth control pills if they were available, with 45% answering in the affirmative and 28% answering in the negative.

An important note for consumers, especially those eager at the prospect of male contraceptives, is that the study was done in mice and there is no clear indication of when human trials would commence.

In an effort to clarify the Nature study’s findings, Anne Hodder-Shipp, CSE, a certified sex and relationships educator, provided two breakdown videos on TikTok about the research, what it means and how male birth control could shape the modern field of sexuality. The two videos have accrued more than 487,000 views on the app over two days. 

“A major reason for all the excitement is the safety piece. Today, most birth control options available use hormones to stop ovulation and it requires that those hormones are consistently and constantly present in the system for them to work,” Hodder-Shipp said. “But as many people who ovulate can attest, the side effects of these hormonal options can be incredibly debilitating mentally, emotionally and physically.” 

Hodder-Shipp noted that while the drug hasn’t entered human trials and isn’t being marketed yet, this could mark the beginning of developing an on-demand male contraceptive option.