Photo by Matt Herbison.

You know what doesn’t do a lot to help reduce unwanted births? Putting women in sole charge of contraception, then making it nigh-impossible for them to exercise any reproductive freedom. We could improve sex ed, affordability of birth control pills, and access to abortion — but as long as there are Republicans around, we might be better off researching easy contraception for men. Which is why this new topical contraceptive gel, developed by researchers at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, could be a big deal.

Unlike current options for male contraception, this one doesn’t involve surgery or even the unfairly-maligned condom. You just put it on your skin, maybe in the form of a patch like the one already available to women. The mix of testosterone and synthetic progesterone lowers sperm counts in 89 percent of men, making it way less likely that you’ll put a bun in your partner’s oven. No need for injections, implants, pills, diaper budgets, child support, or college funds.

For women, this may still feel a little unfair — we’ve been dealing with copper wires, rubber hubcaps, sponges, hormones, and minor surgery in pursuit of self-determined fertility since like the Middle Ages, so how come THEY got to wait until there was a zero-effort, topically-applied solution? But really, if this works out, everybody wins. Dudes just win a little easier, that’s all.

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