Or perhaps the problem is that it is a solution:
The gel, which is applied daily to the chest, shoulders and upper arms, contains a mixture of progesterone and testosterone. The progesterone switches off sperm production in the testes and the testosterone offsets a drop in testosterone that this causes.
Without adding testosterone back in, men get unpleasant side-effects such as low mood, weight gain and a slump in libido. Because testosterone is metabolised so quickly in the liver, it can’t be delivered effectively via a pill, and this has proved the major obstacle to developing a male hormonal contraceptive.
Recently, though, there has been significant progress. A trial in 2016 of a hormone jab demonstrated effectiveness rates close to those of the female pill, although some participants encountered other problems including acne and depression.
Scientists hope the gel version, which is being tested at centres in the UK, Sweden, Chile and Kenya, will prove easier to use and have fewer negative side-effects.
The drug comes in a pump something like a toothpaste dispenser and has the consistency of hand sanitiser. The man applies one dose to each shoulder, upper arm and pec each morning.
A slight inconvenience is that the female partner has to avoid contact with this part of the body (“unless Diana wants to grow a beard,” Owers said) to prevent a second-hand dose of testosterone. So men are advised to either shower before bed or wear a T-shirt at night.
It’s still not solved the basic contraceptive problem which, as with the pig and the chicken discussing breakfast, the man is interested while the woman is heavily involved.