ZDF documentary: Pill for men? Why contraception is still a woman’s job – and probably will remain so


    Sex yes, baby no: women who do not want to become pregnant must take precautions. They usually swallow the birth control pill – and the men are fine. Kind of unfair. Nevertheless, nothing has been done in this regard for decades. Why is that?

    sex is great He can be a lot of fun and is healthy. But he has always come up with a problem. After all, biology didn’t intend for people to have sex just for the fun of it. They should breed. Women who do not want a baby must therefore put up a fight. This is usually called the birth control pill. It is still the most effective and safest protection against unwanted pregnancies. However, it manipulates the hormones and comes with side effects. Men, on the other hand, are fine. A corresponding equivalent for the male population has still not made it onto the market. Why is it that contraception is still a woman’s job? The ZDF documentary “Sex, the Pill and Big Money – Contraception and the Risks” explored this question. Love has probably never been freer than now. A lot has happened in this regard in the last few decades. Only when it comes to contraception is the wheel not really turning any further. Sure, female birth control pills are constantly being improved. The hormonal helpers are still not without risk. We are not only talking about supposedly mild side effects such as nausea, it is about dangers such as an increased risk of thrombosis and the risk of suicide. Side effects that many young women in particular no longer want to put up with. The figures show that in 2015 67 percent of 18-year-olds were still taking the birth control pill, by 2020 it was only 50 percent. More and more women are looking for alternatives. But they are few and far between.

    Could the pill for men have existed for a long time?

    And men? They can either put on a so-called Lümmeltüte or have a vasectomy carried out in a very radical way – snipping snap. There is currently no hormonal contraceptive for men. This has been researched for decades. With success. But there’s a problem somewhere. Michael Zitzmann, andrologist at the University of Münster, thinks he knows why. A study he was leading on hormone injections for men was canceled. When it comes to contraceptives, there are double standards, he criticizes. Side effects such as weight gain or depression, which women have endured for decades, are apparently unacceptable for men.

    1.9 billion euros. This is the turnover that the pharmaceutical company Bayer alone made last year with its most successful birth control pills. The pill business is huge. Accordingly, there is little reason for the companies to change anything about the successful model, at least from an economic point of view. The question could even be asked as to whether possible imminent losses due to rethinking in the contraceptive industry are actually slowing down research in the field.

    In search of answers, the creators of the documentary spoke to women and men, to doctors and researchers, and representatives of the pharmaceutical industry also have their say. In just under half an hour, the gray areas on the subject of contraception are highlighted, standstill and progress are presented. “Sex, the Pill and the Big Money – Prevention and the Risks”, a film by Melissa Holland-Moritz, Ann-Christin Herbe and Marc Schlömer, can be seen on Wednesday, July 6 at 10:45 p.m. on ZDF and on ZDF -Media library available.