BOOK – Contraception in men, towards the end of a taboo? While the French YouTuber Nota Bene recently spoke on video to talk about his vasectomy, a comic also hears throwing a stone in the pond. It is called Contraceptives and appears this Thursday, October 14 in bookstores.
Its authors, Guillaume Daudin and Stéphane Jourdain, are both journalists. Aged in their thirties, they are both in a relationship with women.
During a dinner with friends, a few years ago, a discussion around the contraceptive pill shook them up. How is it that they never thought about the consequences that the little medicine could have on their companions? Why have they never considered an alternative to limit the risks of an unwanted pregnancy?
These questions, they wanted to answer them. For three years, they crisscrossed France to meet specialists in male contraception, but also men who have opted for different methods of condom or vasectomy. These “alternative” tools can sometimes be a bit handcrafted, but have proven to be effective. There are two.
“The first method is called hormonal ”, explains Guillaume Daudin. It consists of a weekly intramuscular injection of testosterone. This treatment, aimed at reducing the sperm count, is reversible, but should be limited, according to the WHO, to 18 months.
With the daily HuffPost newsletter, receive the most important news and the best articles of the day by email. Find out more
The problem is that it is not practiced much ”because the French network is such that it does not allow its deployment, continues the co-author. The injection is not available everywhere and must be performed by a nurse. It requires a lot of logistics. ”
The second is called “thermal” and is sometimes similar to what is called “heated briefs”. Said undergarment, which some men make themselves during workshops, is not a radiator, it aims to lift the testicles out of the scrotum. The sexual glands being thus “warmed up”, this causes the stop of spermatogenesis. To do this, it is advisable to wear the underpants for fifteen hours daily and to wait three months of use to be sure to be “contracepted”.
In their comic strip, the two journalists met a man named Maxime Labrit who, in his garage transformed into a small lab, developed a silicone thermal ring to achieve the same result. Today, he claims to have sold 10,000 copies. “In the 1980s, a period of experimentation with male contraception, it was estimated that only a few hundred men used heated briefs”, specifies Guillaume Daudin.
The latter let himself be convinced. For the past year, he has been wearing a thermal ring. “It’s very simple: it is put on in the morning, it is withdrawn in the evening, he confides to the HuffPost. During the day, we forget that we wear it, like an underwear. After a while, it even feels weird when you don’t have it. ”
The process is not approved, it has not been validated by the health authorities, due to a lack of large-scale study. However, it is recognized as effective and without side effects, according to a study by the French Association of Urology, published in 2020. It can be prescribed by some doctors as part of trial protocols, but requires follow-up and, in particular, several spermograms during the period of use.
What about the male pill?
What about the male pill in all of this? How is it that it still does not exist to this day? Professor emeritus at the University of Twente, the Netherlands, Nelly Oudshoorn is one of the best specialists in the world on the subject. In the pages below, it provides some answers to our authors.
One question remains. Why are these contraceptive methods still so little democratized? “THEhe first responsible, observes Guillaume Daudin, is the men. Under the pressure of a kind of invisible hand of the patriarchy, they are very quiet with the current contraception in their couple and do not ask the question. They leave this burden to their partner. ”
“Everyone is passing the buck”
Laboratories also have their share of responsibility, he said. “Because they believe that men are not interested in contraception, they will not offer a method,” continues the journalist. They don’t invest in it thinking there is no market. ”
Finally, it is up to the public authorities to open the dialogue. “Qhen they talk to the French about contraception, they talk to women ”, notes the co-author of the book. The extension of the reimbursement of contraception to women under 25, put forward by Olivier Véran in September, can attest to this. Why only talk to women? Because “the financial burden of contraception rests above all on [elles]”, The minister replied to AFP in October.
“Everyone returns the ball,” comments Guillaume Daudin. The investigation he publishes opened his eyes, but above all informed him. Today, it is clear that the lack of information on the matter “causes amused reactions, mockery and a lack of interest,” he adds. If all the men knew that there are other methods of sharing contraception within the couple, it would already be different. ” The comic book he signs this Thursday fills a gap.
See also on Then24: Why are we still failing to create a contraceptive pill for men?