You already know what “The Pill” looks like, but what about “The Male Pill?”
When we hear “The Pill,” a singe image likely comes to mind. The round, plastic, clamshell disc that holds female hormonal contraceptives. It’s a ubiquitous symbol of independence, empowerment, and the ability to make a choice. The imagery of “The Pill” is so deeply rooted that it’s difficult to imagine any other type of contraceptive, especially one designed for the other half of the population – “The Male Pill.
Daily oral contraceptives for women are designed to interrupt her natural cycle, which requires daily dosing. “The Pill” is usually a combination of an estrogen and a progestogin, which together eliminate ovulation and prevent pregnancy. There are clinical hormonal trials for men in the works, but at this point, they’re testing a gel formulation that would be rubbed on the shoulders once daily. That doesn’t quite evoke “The Male Pill” imagery. We’ve been stuck with the same contraceptive methods for so long that we don’t understand how to break out of the mold and try new ideas.
So what would “The Male Pill” look like?
We don’t yet know – That’s the beauty of it. Contraceptives can be whatever you want them to be, for both men and women. Human-centered design (HCD) is one way of creating new solutions to existing problems. HCD is a philosophy where users imagine a final product, then allow the science to work towards that goal. This prevents putting something on the market that may not be acceptable to users. HCD events focusing on female contraception have come up with “moonshots” for what the perfect female contraceptive would look like.
So what do you want from “The Male Pill?” Do you want something that acts on demand, only when you need it? Or would you rather have something long acting, that can go for 5, 10, or 20 years without maintenance? How about a non-hormonal solution that doesn’t come with the same baggage as the past? These things don’t have to be daily pills, where you’re beholden to a rigorous schedule, and a single missed dose means the risk of pregnancy. The sky is the limit, and we’d love to hear what you think “The Male Pill” could be.
It’s time that we broadened how we think about contraception.
We don’t yet know what “The Male Pill” will look like. It needs a new identity. One that is distinct, and conveys that a single form of contraception won’t meet the needs of all users. Women change contraceptive methods multiple times over their lives, and we know that a single form of male contraception won’t be perfect for everyone.
“The Male Pill” can take many forms, and this is the time for everyone to dream big. Research is in the early stage, and can be modified to fit design criteria that you come up with. What would your ideal version of “The Male Pill” be?