BY: SAMANTHA TAPP
Birth control has always been a woman’s responsibility since its first ever approval as an oral contraceptive in the United States in 1960. Giving women the opportunity to control pregnancy was revolutionary, and has only grown in popularity since its first global introduction. Since then, there has been an ongoing conversation revolving around birth control – if it was possible over 50 years ago to perfect female contraception, why the hell is it taking so long for a male version? Finally, science has stepped up to the plate and brought us the male contraceptive. However, the new study has been cancelled due to unbearable side effects – side effects that women have been dealing with since 1960.
The new male contraceptive is a needle that holds two hormones: progestogen, which lowers sperm counts, and testosterone, which reduces the effects of the progestogen. The contraceptive study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, found that the needle was more effective than condoms and almost matched the effectiveness of the female birth control pill, with a success rate of 96%.
According to CBC, researchers recruited more than 300 men in long-term monogamous relationships to participate in the study. The men were followed for over a year, with 274 men achieving a low sperm count and only 4 of these resulting in pregnancies. This breakthrough in birth control could be just as revolutionary as was the pill in 1960, if it wasn’t for the study being cancelled because of men abandoning it.
The cancellation of the study has caused an even bigger bang on the internet than the actual study did. From women who have been on the pill since they were 15 to medical professionals, people worldwide have scoffed at the idea of men backing out of the study once they experienced the pains that have been normalized for women; pains that are not only normalized, but that are largely ignored.
Just as recently as last month, a Danish study involving more than 1 million women and teenage girls confirmed that the pill and other types of hormonal contraception may increase the risk of depression (arguably the most serious side effect of any birth control). The study confirmed that 20-30% of women on the pill have required anti-depressants, which is a much higher rate than the 3% of men who experienced mood changes in the male study. However, evidence of the negative effects of women’s birth control have been documented since its introduction and are pretty much seen as the norm.
Notably, the men listed acne as the biggest side effect. With mood swings, an increased interest in sex, muscle aches and injection site pain also recorded. Although, researchers said that nearly 40% of symptoms recorded (acne and libido for example) were unrelated to the injections.
The mild side effects almost mirror the symptoms that women have always experienced. Although you can add weight gain, decreased sex drive, breast pain and the chance of decreased fertility to the list.
The apparent double-standard that is at work here is not only a slap in the face to women who deal with these effects daily, but is also a problem for the medical community that was on the brink of a long-anticipated medical advancement. Perhaps, we should take a harder look at the hormones we’re feeding to teenage girls, as apparently they are not merely the ‘mild’ effects we’ve always thought- or are we to just assume females should accept these symptoms that are now unacceptable for males.