Welcome to The Center, a cultural revolution awaits.
The Center for Male Contraceptive Research & Development is a gathering point for researchers, as well as the public, to begin conversations about how to build one of the most important instruments of social change of the 21st century -- male birth control. Male birth control has often been thought of as just another form of contraception that couples could use to avoid an unplanned pregnancy, adding to the growing list that couples already have to choose from: pills, patches, rings, IUDs, implants, etc. Increasing the number of available contraceptive options for couples is aimed at ensuring that all people are able to prevent unintended pregnancy. Preventing unintended pregnancy has enormous health-related consequences, as unintended pregnancies are often associated with higher rates of preterm births, as well as greater maternal morbidity and mortality. Preventing these complications by preventing unintended pregnancies thus has an enormous impact on our nation's healthcare expenditures.
One underexplored, undervalued aspect of male contraceptive development however, is its role on gender. Aside from condoms and vasectomy, men have NEVER been offered a medical method of contraception that they could use to prevent pregnancy. There was never anything men could do or truly prepare in advance. With the growing number of women using medical contraceptives then, the role of men in family planning has seemingly diminished even though men often have strong opinions on if, when, how, and with who they want to build a family. By not including men in the conversation about pregnancy prevention, men receive the essential message that reproductive decision-making and reproductive health issues are topics that solely concern women and that they cannot affect. Men have few incentives to become more knowledgeable about these issues and women grow to perceive them as a lost cause because of their lack of awareness, shouldering the burden of reproductive responsibility on their own. The development of new male contraceptives re-opens a conversation about where and how men can be involved again. By growing a culture of men who are willing to use male contraception and participate in family planning, men can truly become partners to women again. As prominent men in society are currently being exposed for abusing and disempowering women, the development and uptake of male contraception provides men a chance for redemption, through their willingness to alleviate women's burdens and appreciation of the vital roles that women have and continue to embody. Male contraception is vital for a cultural transition towards gender equity.
For more on efforts to engage men in topics of reproductive health and gender equity, please see our related group, the EMERGE lab: https://www.theEMERGELab.com