Social constructions of the male contraception pill: When are we going to break the vicious circle?

Lorelle Dismore, Anna Van Wersch, Katherine Swainston

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Social constructions of men towards the availability of a male hormonal contraceptive, the ‘male pill’, were explored. A qualitative approach applying semi-structured interviews and scenarios with 22 men (mean age 35 years) from the North East of England revealed two core constructs and six sub-constructs using a Thematic- Construct Analysis in line with the method of Toerien and Wilkinson and Clarke and Kitzinger. Verbal accounts were inductively used to balance the deductively created two core constructs ‘Constructing the male pill norm: dominant system of sensemaking’ and ‘Living by the male pill norm’ to represent a normative framework within a changing ideology of shared responsibility in contraceptive choice. Constructing the male pill norm was divided into two sub-constructs: ‘Male pill: we are going to join the women and become responsible – too!’ and ‘Male pill: you look so girly – what are they going to think of me?’ The ‘Living by the male pill norm’ was further divided into four sub-constructs ‘Male pill – thank you for giving me promises not to have to become a dad as yet!’; ‘Male pill: thank you for the idea of fun – sorry about my morals!’; ‘Male pill: in stable relations – yes, I would have you now – sorry, I am too late!’ and ‘Male pill, we love you – but we are too anxious – we are not ready as yet!’ From this male discourse, it is clear that discussions over the male pill follow the line of a vicious circle. In order to establish long-term side effects, Phase IV studies are necessary, and these cannot commence without the male hormonal contraception being a marketable product. So, unless this circle gets broken by some brave men, the male pill will remain a virtual rotating idea for a long time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)-
JournalJournal of Health Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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