Preventing Pregnancy: Choosing a Male Birth Control Method
Abstinence and sterilization are male birth control methods that almost always work. But men may want other options.
There are two methods of male birth control that work nearly 100 percent of the time: vasectomy and abstinence. But some men want other options. There are several methods that your doctor can discuss with you.
Before choosing a birth control method, you need to consider:
- The state of your health
- How often you have sex
- Number of sex partners you have
- You and your partner’s comfort levels with each method
But remember, even the most effective birth control methods can fail. And not all can prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Male condoms are a thin covering placed over an erect penis that can keep sperm from entering a woman’s body. Condoms can be made of latex, plastic or lambskin (natural). Latex condoms are the only birth control method proven to help protect against some STDs.
Condoms are available dry, lubricated and with vaginal spermicide – a substance that kills sperm. They should not be used with other lubricants like baby oil or petroleum jelly. This can weaken them and cause tears or breaks.
Condoms also need to be stored in a cool, dry place. Heat (from wallets or glove compartments) can cause breaks or tears.
- Cost (about $1 each)
- Can be used with other birth control methods for extra protection
- Latex allergies (natural or plastic versions may substitute)
- May “dull” sensation
- Need to pause during sexual contact to put it on
- Must maintain erection before removing or contents could leak
- Could break or tear
About 11 in 100 women per year, whose only birth control method is the male condom, become pregnant.
Withdrawal may be the world’s oldest form of birth control. During intercourse the penis must be withdrawn from the vagina before ejaculating.
- No side effects
- No cost
- Can make other forms of birth control more effective
- Requires self-control
- Sperm can be released before pulling out
- Not effective for premature ejaculation
- Not recommended for sexually inexperienced men or men with multiple partners
- Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases
It is not as effective as some other methods of birth control. Up to 27 of every 100 women whose partners use withdrawal become pregnant each year.
Vasectomy is the most common form of male birth control in the U.S. It’s permanent sterilization that is:
- Has no impact on
- Hormone levels
- Sexual performance
A vasectomy involves numbing an area of the scrotum. The doctor then makes a very small puncture and locates the vas deferens, a tube that carries sperm from the testicles. A small section of the vas deferens is removed. The remaining ends are then sealed or clamped to stop the flow of sperm. This is repeated on the other side.
If you and your partner don’t want to have (more) children, a vasectomy can ease your anxiety about pregnancy. This may help you to enjoy sex more and cut down on the cost of other contraceptives. It will not prevent you from getting STDs.
Fertility awareness approach
The fertility awareness-based (rhythm) method tracks ovulation (egg release). This requires a great commitment by both partners to monitor the woman’s menstrual cycle. You must avoid intercourse or use another birth control method on the nine days per month that the woman is most likely to be fertile.
Rhythm methods cost little and you can stop anytime if you decide to attempt pregnancy. Many couples find that sharing responsibility for tracking cycles helps them become more intimate. But this method is not as reliable as many other available options. Each year up to 25 in 100 couples who use the rhythm method will become pregnant.
You and your partner need to weigh the benefits and risks of each birth control method. And most important, remember that your chance of preventing pregnancy is best if the method you choose is always done correctly.