What if a man takes birth control pills?

By: Karen Kirkpatrick  | 

Nothing much will happen to a man who pops one or two birth control pills. A whole bunch on a regular basis, though? That could increase prostate-related risks.
Nothing much will happen to a man who pops one or two birth control pills. A whole bunch on a regular basis, though? That could increase prostate-related risks.
Martin Barraud/Getty Images

The question here may be about what would happen if a man took birth control pills, but a more important question might be why a man would take birth control pills in the first place. Let's answer the what, and then take a brief look at the why.

But first, a bit of standard advice: Before taking any medication, consult a physician who can recommend the best course of treatment for you and your symptoms or condition.


Birth control pills contain two hormones, estrogen and progestin, that women's bodies produce naturally. When taken in the form of birth control pills, these hormones will regulate a woman's menstrual cycle and keep an egg from implanting in her uterus, thus keeping her from becoming pregnant. These hormones are also made in smaller amounts in men's bodies. Estrogen is used in sperm development, and progestin makes testosterone [source: Planned Parenthood].

If a man took just one or two birth control pills, nothing would happen. There is not enough of either hormone to throw a man's body out of balance with just a couple of pills. However, if a man took birth control pills on a regular basis over an extended period of time, his breasts might grow larger, his testicles might shrink, and his sex drive and amount of facial hair might decrease. Higher levels of estrogen also increase the risk of an enlarged prostate and prostate cancer. On the upside, birth control pills may help protect against heart attacks, but that possibility is too iffy to be a good reason for a man to start taking them [source: Maine].

Now for just a bit about why a man may want to take them. Some may think that taking birth control pills can help a man become more feminine. This is not the case. If femininity is the goal, there are safer and more effective ways to achieve the result. The first might be adopting more feminine behaviors and dress. A man can also look for clubs and groups of people who identify in a similar way and that offer support, friendship and activities to people who are exploring gender identity. Find a therapist or counselor who can help you understand the reasons you're exploring femininity. Seeing a therapist is often a required step before hormone therapy can begin [source: Go Ask Alice].

So if you're a man considering taking birth control pills, stop. Look at the reasons for your curiosity and what you hope to achieve. Next, find someone — a doctor or therapist — who can help you figure out the best way to reach your goals.


Originally Published: Jun 12, 2015

Man Takes Birth Control FAQ

What happens if a man takes birth control pills?
Taking one or two birth control pills won’t do anything. However, using them for a longer period of time can lead to the development of breast tissue, wider hips, reduced facial hair and shrinking testicles.
Why are there no male birth control pills?
There are several male birth control options in various stages of development, though none are on the market yet. There are a number of biological reasons why male birth control hasn’t been pursued including the complexity of blocking a huge number of sperm and infinite fertility window. Historically, society has seen contraception as a women’s issue, which has also deterred the pharmaceutical industry from researching and creating male birth control.
What happens if a man takes testosterone?
Over a longer period of time, taking additional testosterone results in an increased libido, reduces sperm counts, makes it easier to gain muscle, results in smaller or softer testicles and boosts both energy and mood.
What are the side effects of male birth control?
A promising male birth control trial was shut down in 2016 due to the side effects experienced by participants. They experienced many of the same side effects as women on hormonal birth control do, including acne, weight loss or gain and mood swings.

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  • Go Ask Alice. "I'm a Man Who Wants to Take Birth Control Pills — What Do I Need to Know?" Columbia University. March 28, 2014. (April 12, 2015) http://goaskalice.columbia.edu/im-man-who-wants-take-birth-control-pills-what-do-i-need-know
  • Maine Teen Health. "What Happens if a Guy Takes a Birth Control Pill?" Maine Family Planning. 2015. (April 12, 2015) http://www.maineteenhealth.org/faqs/what-happens-if-a-guy-takes-a-birth-control-pill/
  • Planned Parenthood. "Birth Control Pills. (April 12, 2015) http://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-pill