Male Birth-Control Is Making Its Way Into The Mainstream: Prejudicial Or A Fair Double Standard?

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Hafsah

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Various forms of birth control — including the pill, injections and implants — have been widely available for women since the 1960s. However, as of yet, there hasn’t been a viable option for men using similar methods.

How does the male contraceptive work?

The breakthrough involves progestin, which is found in women’s birth-control pills and the male sex hormone testosterone. Progestin helps suppress ovulation when used in an oral contraceptive and it appears to function in the same way for men, suppressing the rate and extent of sperm production. The developers claim that this contraceptive will be as effective as a vasectomy.

Men will have to take the pill for about 2 to 3 months to deplete their sperm. It will take a similar amount of time to restore normal levels of fertility once off the pill.

Results of the trial:

The new tested male contraceptive has proven to be 96% effective. But what about the 4% of the trial  that wasn’t successful? A trial was conducted and proven successful on 320 people who used it over a one year period. It was proven to be more effective than popular female contraceptives.

However for the unlucky 4% the trial was cut short. This was because many men found the side effects completely unbearable. However Aren’t these the same ones that women have to put up with?

The approach, which involves an injection of testosterone and progestin every eight weeks, was tested on 320 men in seven countries. Mostly, it worked. But study participants also reported acne, pain, increased sex drive, mood disorders and depression. Those last four symptoms prompted a safety review panel in 2011 to stop the trial from recruiting new test subjects and continuing injections for those already being followed. The research team was allowed, however, to finish data collection and to analyze the findings.

Is there a gendered bias?

However we all know that no drug is without its side effects and we have to see if the benefits outweigh the costs. Do we really live in a society which has a gender biased construct on birth control? Is society really patriarchal? Women have had to deal with these side effects for decades on birth control such as the pill. Why haven’t women had further research to diminish the negative effects of birth control? Birth control has many side effects: nausea, mood changes, weight gain and decreased libido just to name a few. Is male pain taken more seriously?  Many people argue that women unfairly share the burden of birth control and the trialling of the male contraceptive outlines this.

Are males restricted control over their body? Each gender should have equal access to control their body. After all society is becoming more and more equal, slowly but surely.

Is there a gendered bias into the ideas of pain and suffering? The decision to cease the study has led to a backlash. Some ethicists and advocates say it represents a double standard, citing evidence that female contraception also may be related to depression and other side effects. They argue men are being protected from the same unpleasant consequences that women are forced to accept. And in October, a study suggested that women who used hormonal contraception had a 40 per cent chance of developing depression after six months of use.

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