Male Contraceptive vs Female Contraceptive: The Truth

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Do you remember that story Nicole did on male contraceptive and some men’s reaction to it. Well, I’m sad to announce that male contraceptive will not see the light of the day, at least not this time, because trials have been stopped due to the fact that some of the men used for the study suffered depression and mood swings. Sorry guys, who would have loved to give it a try.

When I came across a report on why the study as stopped on my Facebook news feed and proceeded to read the story. I didn’t know whether to laugh at the ridiculousness or get angry at the double standards obviously at work in this instance.

I wanted to laugh and conclude, they are merely paying lip service to male contraceptive in the first instance. I mean, women have been suffering mood swings, depression, negative physical changes, as a result of being on contraceptives for ages. And that was what me angry. So these scientists didn’t think it was an issue that women’s body are getting bombarded with hormones every day in form of contraceptives, while they hands-off male contraceptives at the first sign of trouble.

Since the news of a male contraceptive came out this year, I have kept a tab on development and was tantalised with the headlines that said, it was closer than thought, only for the year to be coming to an end and the news of it never coming taking over.

You see, this male contraceptive had a very good chance of halting a guy’s ability to impregnate a woman. The drug trial had a 96 percent success rate, it was a major pharmaceutical light at the end of the tunnel after nearly 60 years of women solely bearing the brunt of responsibility for preventing unwanted pregnancies.

The study was halted early as one of two independent safety panels took issue with the high rate of side effects. This wasn’t the researchers saying, “Oh these poor men.” This was an independent review board. The adverse events that raised concerns were: acne (45 percent), increased libido (38 percent), “emotional disorder” (16.9 percent), injection site pain (23.1 percent), and myalgias, or muscle pain (16.3 percent). One man committed suicide; which somehow the researchers said wasn’t related to the drug because his family said he was stressed at work and another attempted suicide.

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Now, let’s take a look at some of the female contraceptives on the market. Most of them have passed government regulations and even some of them have global approval from World Health Organisation. They are currently in women’s bodies, and their side effects are just as bad as those that occurred with the injectable male birth control. I guess, no independent review panel saw that coming.

As you must have discerned by now, no one halted them, in their trial stage, no one said the risks far outweigh the benefits, as is the case with the male contraceptive trial. Women have had to weigh the risks and benefits by themselves.

Though men have an equal responsibility to prevent unwanted pregnancies, they don’t share equally in the consequences, and never have. Just a few weeks, before we were harassed with the news of halting male contraceptive trials; the internet was buzzing with a study that highlighted the major side effect of hormonal female contraceptives, which women have been using for ages now.

In the study, which involved over a million women, and it was discovered that women, who used hormonal birth control were more likely to be prescribed antidepressants.  If that is not depression, I don’t know what else is. It feels like a woman has to choose between her reproductive freedom and her health and emotional health.

Well, thanks to pulling a plug on the trial, men would never have to make that choice. The burden of birth control has always fallen largely on women’s shoulders; after all, it is their bodies that will bear the consequences if birth control fails. The only currently available birth-control method for men—short of a vasectomy—is a condom. So a man can either wrap it up, or let the lady handle it.

To better put the side effects into perspective, here’s a side-by-side comparison of how hormonal birth control can affect both genders.

Depression

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I have already made the point above but for emphasis sake, according to reports from the study, only a minute 3 percent of the 320 men involved in the male hormonal birth control trial reported depression as a serious adverse side effect. For the two men; one who committed suicide and the one, who attempted it, researchers said, it had nothing to do with the trial.

According to study co-author, Doug Colvard, the changes in mood experienced by men in the trial may be due to the fluctuations in the circulating progestin following bimonthly injection, fluctuations, which is very similar to what women experience during their menstrual cycles regardless of whether they are on hormonal birth control.

While women may naturally experience changes in mood in relation to their fertility; new research has linked hormonal birth control to significant increases in depression risk for women.

Sex drive

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Some men in the study reported increased libido as an adverse side effect of the hormonal birth control shot.

Female hormonal birth control has also been noted to affect women’s sex drive, although in the opposite manner.  Now, we would really like an increased libido.

Some studies even reported that the birth control pill can make it more difficult for some women to self-lubricate (vaginal dryness) during arousal, which may also play a role in women’s decreased desire for sex.

Acne and break-outs

A young man washing his face
A young man washing his face

Acne was also a problem cited among some of the men in the hormonal birth control trial. Again, this could be due to the body believing it has more testosterone, which, among many things, also signals for an increase in oil production.

Similar skin problems are also reported with female hormonal birth control. Although, the Pill and other forms of hormonal birth can cause a surge in breakouts. Thankfully, these flare-ups are usually short-lived and in the long-run the Pill is actually noted to help reduce acne issues for some women.

So, what do you think? Whose contraceptive should have been halted and banned?!

You may wonder why I’m so interested in the whole male contraceptive business. No, it is not as if, I would like my husband to use it, but for it to be an option.

Let it be something, a woman can pitch to her husband, asides from condom or the often fear-inducing vasectomy, which is not 100 percent sure anyway. Let it be something a man can consider, rather than have his wife bear the brunt for keeping off unwanted pregnancies.

Let women stop feeling the double standards in the medical field regarding women’s health and especially that the burdens a woman bear in exchange for her reproductive freedom are considered too much to expect a man to bear.

While we wait for the dawning of the day, when the options go both ways, stay strong mamas.

 

 

Join the conversation with any of our TTC and Pregnancy Groups here

Photo credits:

1. http://www.timeslive.co.za/

2. https://images.sciencedaily.com/

3.  http://www.medindia.net/

4. http://www.kenya-today.com/

5. http://f.tqn.com/y/mensfashion/

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