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Male birth control side effects are not funny

Recently, news outlets have been reporting on the termination of a clinical trial studying male birth control. Many were quick to accuse the men taking part in the trial of being ‘wimps’, but is this reaction perhaps a little over zealous and unfair? I think that the larger issue is one of what we are willing to put our bodies through and whether we can ignore what they are telling us.

This injectable drug uses a combination of synthetic hormones: Progesterone [known as Progestin] and Testosterone. Using long-acting injectable forms of these hormones suppresses the production of sperm. The results were – it cannot be argued – very successful: there was a 96% rate of success in preventing pregnancy among couples whose male partner was taking part in the trial. And yet despite this return the independent safety panel which ultimately halted the trial still had cause for concern, enough to stop the study before completion.

It is not a question of can these men hack the side effects of this new birth control injectable drug, it is a question of whether or not it is safe. Side effects reportedly include depression and mood disorders; along with muscle pain, increased libido, and even infertility.

Infertility

That is a big one. Not to be taken lightly.

Side effects are a warning sign, a message that the body is suffering. Why on earth would men want to take such an injectable method? Just as women suffer side effects from the birth control pill, such as weight gain, water retention, acne, heightened breast cancer risk, so should these men suffer from side effects too?

The injection has not been tested sufficiently and for a long enough time to know the true outcome of this drug. As one of the authors (Dr Mario Philip Reyes Festin, MD) of the study outlined: “more research is needed to advance this concept to the point that it can be made widely available to men as a method of contraception”. This would mean that more research needs to be done to make sure it is ‘adequately safe’.

Prof Allan Pacey at the University of Sheffield also offered an opinion, saying that “the fact that so many side effects were observed in the men who were taking part in the trial is of concern. For a male contraceptive to be accepted by men (or women) then it has to be well tolerated and not cause further problems”.

Both the birth control pill for women and the birth control injectable for men use the synthetic form of hormones. We have already seen the drastic side effects the birth control pill has to offer women. Clearly these synthetic forms of hormones do not belong in the body.

My personal opinion would be to stay away from it boys.