Women have held most of the responsibility for taking various forms of birth control to prevent unplanned pregnancies for over 50 years. But what about men? Their birth control options range from a vasectomy to the tried-and-true condom to the good ole pullout method. *Eye roll* No pills or shots for men, whose role in conception is equal to women’s.
However, a study, was just released by The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism on Oct. 27, 2016, detailing the development of a safe and effective method of male contraception.
However again, said study was cut short because of the high frequency of “mild to moderate” mood swings in the men.
Hmmm… mood swings. That sounds familiar. Oh, right — like the ones women get every month along with our periods? Or the ones caused by the birth control we take to control our periods?
Let’s get one thing straight: Women have been dealing with the side effects from their periods since literally the dawn of time. These side effects include mood swings, cramps, backaches, nausea and diarrhea. Sounds like a great time, right?
Not only do our naturally occurring periods have side effects, but the medication (i.e., birth control) we take to control these side effects has side effects. Because that’s how medication works.
Birth control has been known to cause spotting, nausea, breast tenderness, headaches, weight gain, mood changes, missed periods, decreased libido and vaginal discharge, to name a few.
A brief history of oral contraception
The development of an effective chemical birth control method for women began in the early 1900s thanks to two women’s rights activists, an endocrinologist and a chemist.
After several large-scale clinical trials in the 1950s, the first oral contraceptive was approved by the FDA and became available for sale in the U.S. in May of 1960. Five years later, 6.5 million American women reported being on the pill.
In 1969, the severe side effects of the high level of synthetic estrogen in the pill were exposed, which included the risk of blood clots, heart attack, stroke, depression, weight gain and a lower sex drive. This newfound knowledge led to a series of Senate hearings regarding the safety of the pill and a drop in the pill’s sales. As a result, in 1988, the original high-dose pill was taken off the market and replaced with newer, lower-dose pills — the kind available on the market today — that don’t have as severe side effects.
Back to the study
The study regarding male contraception involved administering an injection of progesterone and testosterone to men every eight weeks for about one year to reduce the production of sperm in order to prevent pregnancies in their female partners.
Now, here is the interesting part: The study was cut short due to an independent review board’s conclusions that “the risks to the study participants outweighed the potential benefits to the study participants.” These “risks” included “mood changes, depression, pain at the injection site, and increased libido.”
If you’ve made it this far into reading this post, then I invite you to scroll up and reread the side effects listed for both birth control and menstruation.
Personally, I find it ironic that the complaints listed by the male participants in this study are relatively similar to the side effects known to be caused by birth control — and dare I say, less severe.
For women, the goal of birth control is to prevent pregnancy and control severe menstruation. So in order to reach these goals, we deal with a few side effects. Birth control has even been linked to cancer, yet we still use it because it is the most effective method available at this moment.
Even though the study was cut short, it reported of the shot, “The contraceptive efficacy is high, especially when compared with other reversible methods available for men, and is comparable with the efficacy of female oral contraceptive methods, as typically used.”
We think it’s about damn time there was an effective male birth control method on the market. Women can’t get pregnant without sperm, so if the goal is to pregnancy prevention, it is equally the man’s responsibility. Women have been setting alarms for 50-plus years to remember to take their pill at the same time every single day, and it’s time for there to be an option available for men so women don’t have to bear the pressures of contraception on their own.