If men are so obsessed with their genitals, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities of sex?

Most men say they wouldn't take a male contraceptive pill, and I'm not surprised

Chloe Hamilton
Monday 31 August 2015 15:55
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Vasalgel, a press image from the company
Vasalgel, a press image from the company

I’ve come to the conclusion that men are obsessed with their genitals. Women aren’t precious about vaginas because we can’t afford to be. With alarming regularity, latex-gloved fingers are inserted, speculums opened, and biopsies taken. Sometimes, even, twists of copper are implanted; shoved into the neck of our wombs. But if a deflated football goes within one inch of a man’s crown jewels? Well, that’s game over.

A survey released last week showed that 89 per cent of men wouldn’t take a male contraceptive pill. Of that proportion, 21 per cent said it was because they were scared of the pill’s long-term effects. Another 24 per cent said they thought it was the woman’s responsibility to sort out contraception.

The statistics came to light just as a new male contraceptive, Vasalgel, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Granted, Vasalgel is not a pill, it’s an injection under local anaesthetic through the scrotum and into the sperm-carrying tubes, but the principle’s the same. The injection is not too dissimilar to having a coil fitted, but it’s staggering how many would be unwilling to try it for fear of pain or damage.

I put the question to my male Facebook friends. The majority said they would definitely try a male contraceptive, although I wonder whether they’d clocked that I was fishing for column material. Others said they were worried about the lack of empirical evidence attached to the injection, and were nervous about it causing unwelcome side-effects in the future.

Unfortunately, too many chaps clam up when confronted with the grisly reality of reproduction. They can stomach the ins and outs (ha ha), but that’s about it. I had one boyfriend who took me to a walk-in clinic when I accidentally bled on to his bedclothes because he was convinced something was horribly wrong. Some men wince if you mention PMS, go green at the thought of tampons, and probably think an intrauterine device is an iPad for a foetus. It’s no surprise they regard the male contraceptive with a similar primness, especially since the Vasalgel injection would involve a little prick next to their precious testicles.

So, how can we make the whole thing more attractive? Well, first, at school, boys should learn about girls’ bodies, and vice versa. Anxiety arises from a lack of understanding. Men also need to be taught that contraception is a mutual responsibility.

Women put up with the invasive nature of some contraception because they know if they screw up they’ll face an unwanted pregnancy. But men are detached from that process until the moment of birth, and often beyond. They shouldn’t be. An un-sugar-coated reminder of the consequences, financial and emotional, might be enough to get men to consider a needle in the scrotum, even if it does sting a bit.

Of course, if none of that works, GPs could always dole out testicle-shaped lollipops to reward men for their bravery post-injection … although I’m not sure how appealing that’d be.

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