The Male Pill is an oral contraceptive based on a modified compound similar to gossypol, a substance extracted from cottonseed first used in China, and is generally combined with potassium to prevent hypokalaemia. It has a number of side effects, including fatigue and permanent infertility. It is also an antiviral, but is only effective against retroviruses such as Hepatitis B. Although it has some action against Slim Disease, this has only been widely exploited in South Africa.
After being adopted for use in China, the NHDO began manufacturing and prescribing male oral contraceptives in 1985. At the time, it was entirely unknown that they caused infertility, though other side effects were known and the introduction of supplementary potassium was begun as an attempt to counteract them. In 1991 it was made a condition for receipt of the Social Wage that men take regular contraception. It was claimed that this policy was adopted in order to prevent the birth of children dependent on the State and as a deterrent for men who were still able to find work relatively easily while not actually introducing a requirement for work. Men were subject to random urine tests to test their concordance. In 1997, it became public knowledge that by the time this requirement was proposed, it was known to the NHDO and the government that the drug caused permanent infertility in 50% of men taking it regularly after two years. Nonetheless, the policy was not changed. It is also thought that the side-effect of fatigue is useful to prevent social disorder among the unemployed.
Although it is an effective male contraceptive, it has not been generally used in casual sex because it is impractical for female partners to ascertain whether men have taken it or not. The side effects also deter men from taking it and they are more likely to use barrier methods. On the other hand, there have been some positive effects from its introduction. It is often unnecessary for women to use any form of contraceptive at all and there is less domestic violence or aggression from men who take it, so it has reduced crime.