Friday, July 24, 2009

Birth Control For Him?

Dear Dr. Kate,

My boyfriend and I have been together for six months now, and we are thinking of becoming sexually active. But we are concerned about an unwanted pregnancy. I am currently taking oral birth control. I was wondering if there is a male contraceptive besides condoms? I am allergic to latex therefore I can't use condoms. Are there any latex-free condoms? A friend of mine once told me he was on a shot to prevent pregnancy - is there such thing and if there is what are some of the possible side-effects?

Curious

Curious,

First, yay for thinking about birth control before you have sex! And using two forms of contraception will make your chances of pregnancy even smaller. Unfortunately, there is no reliable, reversible male contraceptive besides condoms. (I don't think withdrawal, or pulling out, is effective enough to talk about here.) There are many reasons why we don't have a good hormonal method for men yet, though recent studies show a lot of promise. There are shots and pills for men that are not available in the US, but to the best of my knowledge, these methods aren't effective, or aren't safe (for him), or both. Not safe, because they're extremely high doses of hormones that have not been extensively studied and could put him at risk of cancer.

But the good news is that there are latex-free condoms available. They're made from polyurethane, and are available in major drug stores or online. Stay away from condoms made from natural materials like lambskin - they're more porous than polyurethane, so are less likely to prevent passage of microbes or sperm.

Stay safe,
Dr. Kate

Photo credit: adaptorplug

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