The women's activist community is getting more and more vocal about equality in arenas that have nothing to do with salaries and the workforce. There is a difference in the biology of males and females, and the products used for everyday life are different as well. Women must have menstrual products, they must be regulated for safety and efficiency, and there is even a movement toward making these products sales-tax-exempt. Lately, social media has been abuzz about a similar issue: birth control. Was there a male birth control pill pulled off the market because of harmful side effects--the very same side effects of many women's birth control?
The Truth Behind the Story
The drug in question was the topic of a CONRAD news release in 2016, in which it stated the study was terminated before its completion due to the frequency of side effects such as acne, injection site pain, increased libido, and mood disorders. Despite these effects, 75 percent of participants wanted to use this birth control method. However, it was determined that further study is needed to reduce the risk of side effects. This is not to say that there is no hope for men who would benefit from birth control. There are other viable options that are making their way through clinical trials with great success.
- Transdermal Gel
Nestorone-Testosterone combines testosterone and progestin and is applied on the arms and shoulders daily. It is the birth control furthest along in trial and is safe and effective thus far. This product, when used regularly will reduce sperm production while replacing testosterone sufficiently to avoid harmful side effects.
- Birth Control Pill
Male birth control pills have been tried in the past, and require multiple pills per day in order to be effective at keeping sperm counts low. A new drug, Dimethandrolone Undecanoate, is in phase two of trials and the goal is to produce a product that is effective and side effect free, which will only require a standard daily dose.
- Nonsurgical Vasectomy
In India, researchers have been developing a nonsurgical vasectomy called reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance (RISUG). This procedure would be 98 percent affective at preventing pregnancy and has no major side effects. The American equivalent to this method of male birth control is in the preclinical trial phase in the U.S., and still years away from benefiting the public.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
There is hope on the horizon for male birth control, but the process of moving new technology, drugs, and treatments through clinical trials takes time. In this culture of high speed internet and viral posts, we cannot expect male birth control studies to produce the results we've seen for women birth control for decades now. In the meantime, men should speak openly about family planning with their sexual partners and their primary care providers.