How Do Contraceptives Work in Males

As soon as you hear the word contraceptive, what comes to your mind? A pill used by women to prevent conception? Or procedures that women go through just to make sure that they don’t get pregnant. Well, that’s usually not the case, at least, not always. In this post, you will discover how contraceptives work in males.

Contraceptives are pills or methods used to prevent conception. Interestingly, just like women, men also have birth control or contraceptive methods. However, most of these contraceptive methods are going through approval tests. Although no birth control pills are currently available, research is still ongoing as to how contraceptives work in males.

Nevertheless, there are various options available for men to prevent pregnancy.

In this article, you’d learn how contraceptives work in males. Furthermore, you will also find out prospective birth control options for males.

What is Contraception in Males?

For women, most contraceptive methods prevent ejaculated sperm in the vagina from reaching the mature eggs for fertilization. On the other hand, contraceptives in males simply prevent the sperms from getting into the vagina in the first place.

Interesting right?

In fact, in the event that these sperms do enter the vagina, male contraceptives work to ensure that they are not potent enough to ensure conception or cause pregnancy.

Male Contraceptive Options

The currently available contraceptive options for men include abstinence, condoms, and vasectomy. Although some people also consider the withdrawal method to be a male contraceptive option, it is important to note that this method is unsafe and largely ineffective.

1. Abstinence

Abstinence is the best way to prevent pregnancy when you are not ready for one. In plain terms, this just means refraining from sexual contact. Some have defined abstinence to mean abstaining from all sexual contact while others have termed it to mean abstaining from vaginal intercourse.

Abstinence that involves refraining from all forms of sexual contact is the best as it provides protection from sexually transmitted diseases and also prevents the risk of unplanned pregnancy.

2. Condoms

Condoms are quite effective in preventing pregnancy and they can also protect against STDs. In addition, condoms come in different sizes and textures. Some of them are also lubricated to make penetration easier and to reduce friction. Some condoms are also coated with spermicide which increases protection against conception.

barrier contraceptives

Like every other form of barrier contraceptive, condoms must be worn the right way to prevent pregnancy. To avoid this, wear your condoms the right way and keep them away from heat and friction.

3. Vasectomy

Vasectomy, or male sterilization, is almost permanent and somewhat irreversible.

In this process, a surgeon cuts off the tubes that transport sperm to your testicles and seal it. This method is the most effective birth control option for men. After you’ve had a vasectomy, it takes about 3 months for your semen to be completely sperm free.

male contraceptive

Vasectomy does not protect against STDs so you still have to wear a condom for protection against STDs.

4. Withdrawal method

This is simply the pull-out method.

It is one of the oldest and simplest methods of birth control but it is also the least effective. In the withdrawal method, the man pulls his penis out of the vagina before ejaculation occurs. However, it is important to note that the withdrawal method very unreliable. In fact, it is only effective if it is done the right way. Furthermore, it is really difficult to do it the right way.

Doing it the right way means that you pull out soon enough so that no semen drops on or inside your partner’s vagina. This is really important because semen or precum may contain live sperm cells. You can read this article that contains the answer to the question: Can precum lead to pregnancy?

A major drawback of the withdrawal method is that it does not protect you or your partner from STDs.

Generally, we recommend abstinence, condoms, and vasectomy as the only male contraceptive options to try. 

Prospective contraceptive methods for males

Researchers are still carrying out studies to find other methods that can work for birth control in men. Some of the recent findings include:

1. Pills

A recent study revealed that just like women do, men can also take hormonal pills to prevent conception. This pill is called dimethandrolone undecanoate (DMAU). It works by lowering the level of testosterone and other androgenic hormones in the blood, thereby reducing the rate of sperm production.

2. Gel injection

Two kinds of gels are currently being studied. The first is what is called the vasagel. This gel is injected into the vas deferens which carries sperm to the penis. This process is reversible and not as permanent as a vasectomy.

The second possible injection is the Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance (RISUG). This injection goes into the scrotum and it prevents sperm from leaving the scrotum during sexual intercourse.

RISUG is a non-hormonal, minimally invasive, and reversible process. It is very effective and can last up to 10 years. It is more like a vasectomy, just that it is not permanent.

3. Androgen shot

Monthly injections of androgens such as testosterone or progestogen have been shown to be very effective at preventing conception. It works by reducing luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) from the pituitary gland. This results in a reduction in the production of sperm in the testis.

The use of these androgens has been shown to lower sperm count considerably without any change in libido, getting an erection, or achieving orgasm. This method is very effective and it is reversible.

contraceptives in male

This development has paused due to the side effect of these pills on men’s health. Some of these side effects include headaches, acne, mood disorders, and depression among others. Another major disadvantage of this method is that it takes time for it to become effective ( averagely about 3 to 4 months for the effect of the therapy to show.


The currently available medical options of birth control for males include the use of condoms and vasectomy but some behavioral options such as abstinence and withdrawal methods also exist. All of these can help to reduce the risk of pregnancy.

There are no birth control pills that are currently available for men although research is still going on. In the meantime, it is highly recommended that males discuss birth control options available to them with their partners and seek experts’ advice on the best method they can adopt.