What are the contraceptive options for men?

Condoms and spermicides are two of the most common birth control options for men, while vasectomy offers a permanent option.

Although many birth control options are available, women carry most of the burden of birth control in heterosexual relationships. However, men can help take some responsibility by researching and using safe birth control options. Here are the possible birth control methods for men.

permanent birth control

There is only one form of permanent birth control solution for men, and that is vasectomy.


A vasectomy is the only form of permanent birth control for men. There are several vasectomy techniques, but each of them involves preventing sperm from entering the vas deferens, the tube through which they normally flow out of the penis. A doctor can perform a minimally invasive outpatient procedure or a more complex surgical procedure to cut or tie this tube. The appropriate option depends on the individual’s needs and overall health. While some vasectomies are reversible, the effectiveness of these procedures depends on the method and skill of the surgeon performing the vasectomy. It also takes some time, usually about three months, for a vasectomy to become fully effective. The couple must therefore use other methods of contraception during this period.

The success rate for vasectomies is over 99%, but about 1-2% of people who have the procedure experience complications such as excessive pain or bleeding.

Barrier contraceptive methods for men

Here are some barrier methods for male contraception.

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Condoms are a popular and accessible barrier method that can reduce the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. They come in different shapes, colors, and sizes, and some include a spermicidal lubricant to help kill sperm. Most condoms are made of latex, but people with a latex allergy can use condoms made of other materials, such as polyurethane or polyisoprene. It is important to check the instructions or labeling for potential allergens.

By respecting the instructions for use, condoms can be effective up to 98%. However, many people do not use them correctly every time. They may put them on too late, leave the penis in the vagina after ejaculation, or perform actions that cause condoms to tear. Under normal use, the efficiency is approximately 85%.


Spermicide is a substance that kills sperm Trusted Source. When a person uses it as their only method of birth control, they must apply spermicide into the vagina. With normal use, spermicide fails in about 21% of cases. However, it is possible to improve its effectiveness by using it with a condom.

Behavioral methods

Behavioral methods can also be beneficial, although they often require additional contraceptive methods for optimal safety.

Fertility Awareness

Fertility awareness is a method of monitoring the female partner’s menstrual cycles to determine the likely time of ovulation. Partners can then avoid intercourse during this fertile window. Men cannot practice this method alone. However, they can support their female partners by noting their menstrual cycles, learning about this method, and being cooperative when they need to abstain from sex.

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The effectiveness of fertility awareness is highly variable. If a woman has regular and predictable menstrual cycles, the approach is more likely to be effective. On average, the failure rate is 23% per year.


Withdrawal involves removing the penis from the vagina before it ejaculates. In theory, this method can prevent sperm from entering the vagina. An older study from 2014 found that with the correct approach, the effectiveness of removal is around 96%. However, over the course of a year, 18% of couples using this method will experience pregnancy. The optimal approach requires a person to withdraw before any ejaculation occurs, not just at the onset of ejaculation which can be difficult to time. It is also necessary to prevent the ejaculate from coming into contact with the vagina. The penis must therefore be completely free of the vagina.

Sex without penetration

External intercourse is the giving and receiving of sexual pleasure using methods that do not result in pregnancy, such as oral sex, mutual masturbation, or the use of sex toys. As long as the semen does not come into contact with the vagina, there is no risk of pregnancy. However, there is still a risk of contracting certain sexually transmitted infections, especially if a person comes into contact with their partner’s bodily fluids, including semen or vaginal secretions.


Abstinence is abstaining from sexual contact. Some people use this term to refer to avoiding vaginal intercourse, while others use it in the context of abstinence from sexual contact. Abstinence which consists of avoiding sexual contact ensures zero risk of pregnancy and eliminates the likelihood of sexually transmitted diseases.

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Clinical trials for a male contraceptive pill

Researchers continue to explore male contraceptive methods that work similarly to the female contraceptive pill or injection. Men do not have the same menstrual cycles as women. Therefore, these methods must use another technique to control fertility, such as suppressing certain hormones or reducing sperm count.

A 2019 clinical trial evaluated a male birth control pill, which passed the first round of safety and tolerance tests. Hormone tests suggested that the drug lowered certain hormones, including testosterone, which reduces fertility. While some men have experienced erection problems, overall interest in sex has not diminished.
Another 2019 study found that an injectable mixture of hormones could reduce sperm motility and clog the vas deferens.

While no male birth control pills are currently available on the market, one may be available in the years to come.


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