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India's Men Are About to Get the World’s First Contraceptive Injection: But Will They Use it?

“If I am having sex with multiple partners, I would rather use a condom because this is not definitely protecting me against STDs.”

by Shamani Joshi
19 November 2019, 1:32pm

Photo: Sayan (left), Abhay (centre) and Shreyas (right)

On our journey to achieve the most intense orgasms, it’s always important to bring along essentials like condoms and consent. But while the latter is an absolute must, many cis straight couples choose to bypass the protective rubber and instead have the woman pop birth control pills that aren’t very hard to swallow, but definitely difficult to deal with. Not only do these come with scary side-effects ranging from headaches and mood swings to weight gain and even a loss of libido, but it also seems super unfair for the burden of birth control to fall squarely on women.

Male contraceptives have been in the works for a while now, but just like their target audience sometimes, they haven’t been able to get it up. Pharmaceutical companies have paraded contraceptive pills, rubbing gels and other such lotions and potions that will magically reduce the hormone that produces the impregnating sperm but might also potentially kill your sex drive at the same time. But now, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) says it’s on the brink of breaking ground with the world’s first male contraceptive injection, that promises no side-effects except the scary thought of being injected on the sperm-containing tube near the testicles (vas deferens), a procedure that will be preceded by an anaesthetic. Termed as the reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance (RISUG), this product injects polymers into the penis’ vas deferens that have the potential to hold back your sperm when you can no longer hold yourself back from doing it, with a promised shelf life of 13 years. While it seems like India might see this product soon (and god knows we need it), other options like pills are also undergoing clinical trials. The ICMR is currently awaiting approval from the Drug Controller General of India. But as we wait, we wondered: how many Indian men would actually use this? Would they really want to use a needle instead of a condom if it meant you could fuck without giving a fuck about having babies or side-effects? We asked around.

Shreyas, 24, writer

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I’d be open to trying the contraception because the onus is always put on women, who anyway are the ones who have to deal with the downside of an unwanted pregnancy or go through an abortion. They are already burdened enough, so this is at least one place where men can pick up some of the burden. But honestly, I personally wouldn’t use the injection because I’d rather not have sex at all then. I would rather rub the gel, because it sounds more convenient, and can also double up as a lubricant. In fact, if they market it as lube, they can do two jobs with one stone. Or they can add one more thing to the pill and make it a gum or a mouth freshener so it seems like it isn’t a big deal. Men are not too used to making changes in their routine, so it has to be marketed in a way that doesn’t seem so intense or difficult.

Sayan, 26, media professional

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Honestly, I wouldn’t want to use an injection and would rather go for other options. If the pill and gel can promise me better contraception than the condom in terms of margin of error without any serious side-effects like fever or the kind you get with taking antibiotics, I would use it after it has been studied and tested properly for a few years. But, if I am having sex with multiple partners, I would rather use a condom because this is not definitely protecting me against STDs, which a condom already does.

Sohail, 27, digital media manager

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Nobody likes to use condoms, so this is a good option for us, especially in times of emergency when you don’t have a condom or if you’re in a live-in relationship or you’re married. But the doctors have to work to make it safe and secure. While I would prefer the pill, the injection just makes more sense because it promises no side-effects so even though it sounds painful, it’ll only last a while. I just want to make sure it’s safe and tested, as a vasectomy would be. Also, I’m at this age where I know I want a child in the future so this contraceptive shouldn’t affect that and should be reversible.

Abhay, 33, brand manager

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I don’t think Indian men use condoms just as a contraceptive, it’s also to have safe sex. When it comes to the question of how to avoid impregnating your women, you need to have a strong pull-out game. And when I think about this whole concept of contraception that you have to inject in your balls, it’s too graphic. Our balls are like family jewels, so if I have to resort to using any kind of contraceptive, I’d rather go for a pill. But I honestly think there are easier ways and hope I’ll never have to resort to that. People are already so scared of vaccinations, so the injection just seems dreadful.

Neelaksh, 22, stand-up comedian

I don’t know how old the technology is, and all the details are still relatively unknown so I would prefer conventional condoms. I’ve watched too many Marvel movies to just inject stuff or consume chemicals I don’t know much about, and like I don’t want some Hulk shit to happen. This science is still too new, so I would not be up for any pills or gels nor would I ask the girl. I would just prefer having safe sex with a condom.

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