When we think of birth control, we often immediately think about the oral pill that women can take to prevent conception. While scientists are currently attempting to develop one for men, they are still a long way from bringing a product to market. And yet there are still various birth control methods specifically for men that can be very effective. There are a number of reasons why men should consider taking charge of their own birth control. First and foremost, it takes two to tango, and far too often is the burden of contraceptives placed on women. Second of all, women’s birth control methods are not 100% effective so it is best to add further protection.
To help men take their share of responsibility, here are the most common male contraception methods and how they work.
1. Wear a Condom
When worn correctly, condoms can be up to 98% effective against conception but the emphasis is on the word “correctly”. If you don’t put the condom on as designed, the effectiveness can drop to as low as 75%. Firstly, you need to make sure that you wear the right size condom because a condom that is too small can break without you knowing. You should only use polyurethane or latex condoms as other materials may not protect you from viruses such as HIV. Your condoms should always be kept in a cool, dry place to ensure their structural integrity. Always make sure that the condom hasn’t expired and use a silicone- or water-based lubricant when necessary. These are less likely to break the condom than oil lubricants.
To put the condom on properly, place it over the head of your erect penis. Pinch the tip of the condom to prevent any trapped air, and to leave room for your semen. Roll the condom down all to the base of your penis and check that it hasn’t broken during the process. If you are circumcised, you should roll your foreskin back before putting on the condom.
Condoms are the only birth control method that can help to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections and so even if you are using another contraceptive method you should always wear a condom/
2. Undergo Surgery
Vasectomies are sometimes called male sterilization and it is a highly effective birth control method. When you undergo a vasectomy operation, the surgeon cuts and then seals the vas deferens which are the tubes that carry sperm to your testicles. This means that while you will still ejaculate upon climax, there will usually be no sperm in your semen. This procedure is incredibly effective with unwanted pregnancy only occurring in around 15 out of 10,000 couples. It takes around three months after surgery for semen to be totally free of sperm and so you need to take the necessary precautions during that period.
Vasectomies are simpler and cheaper than female sterilization methods and they are also more effective. They are done as an outpatient procedure so you can go home that same day and they won’t change the physical sensation of sex in any way. There is also no change to your semen except that it no longer contains any sperm.
There are some drawbacks to surgery, the most obvious being that the procedure is essentially permanent. While you can try to have it reversed, these corrective surgeries often don’t work, and the likelihood is that you won’t ever be able to have children. As vasectomies will not provide any protection from STIs, you will still need to wear a condom when having unprotected sex with anyone whose sexual health status you don’t know. You may experience the same kind of swelling, bleeding, and other complications that occur with any surgery but these are rare and usually minor.
3. Engage in Outercourse
Conception can only occur when there is penetrative sex as your sperm needs to come into contact with your female partner’s egg. This means that there is a range of other sexual activities you can engage in that won’t lead to pregnancy. These are often categorized as outercourse (rather than intercourse) and include all of the different foreplay methods as well as other non-vaginal penetrative sex. Outercourse may involve kissing, intimate touching, mutual masturbation, grinding, oral sex, anal sex, and many others. While none of these sexual activities can lead to pregnancy, oral and anal sex can still spread STIs so you need to take the normal precautions and wear a condom if you are not in a committed and exclusive sexual relationship with your partner.
4. Pull Out Before Ejaculation
Often known as “coitus interruptus” to those who prefer the Latin name, or the “pull out method” to the rest of us, simply withdrawing before ejaculation is one of the most used birth control methods. People like this method because it costs nothing, requires no planning, has zero side effects, and won’t affect your enjoyment in the way that wearing a condom may do. Unfortunately, the pull-out method is also notoriously unreliable for a few different reasons. First of all, you need to time it right which means pulling out well in advance of ejaculation. This can be difficult in the heat of the moment, especially if you are someone who doesn’t have much control over their climax. Furthermore, depending on testosterone and other biological factors, some men have sperm in their pre-cum and so there may still be a chance of pregnancy. In fact, the pull-out method works less than 80% of the time so it is not a method you should rely on. There is absolutely no protection from STIs so if you want to stay safe, it is better to wear a condom and forget about the pull-out method altogether.
While these contraceptive methods are the most effective, there is still a chance that pregnancy can result from some of them. It is important to be aware of this as well as the risks from sexually transmitted infections. Only having sex with one partner in a committed relationship where both parties are taking contraceptive measures is the best way to avoid unwanted pregnancy and disease. Speak to your partner about the best contraception plan so that you are both in it together.