Since the 1960's, women have been taking prescribed medications which alter their hormone levels to prevent pregnancy. Recently, a study was conducted into the effectiveness and side effects of a male version - but this was halted due to the men suffering side effects already linked to the pill.
The study showed that the new form of male contraceptive - an injection - was 96 per cent effective. However, 6 per cent of participants dropped out due to side effects, so researchers stopped taking on new participants for further testing.
The Pill and Depression in Women
The combined pill is the most popular method of contraception for women - 48 per cent of those aged 16 to 19, 64 per cent of women aged 20 to 24 and 55 per cent of women aged 25 to 29 take it. That doesn't include those also using the patch, implant, Nuva ring, or other hormonal forms of contraception.
These figures are pretty high, especially considering the fact that a hormonal roller-coaster ride of mood swings, cravings, libido fluctuations and acne come with the territory. In fact, a recent study showed that women who take the pill are up to 70 per cent more likely to suffer from depression.
Interestingly, when the pill was first developed, studies found that 17 per cent of women suffered from side effects including "nausea, dizziness, headaches, stomach pain and vomiting." The pill was, however, still released. It has of course been developed and improved since then and obviously science (and its care for participants) has moved on. Well, it's moved on where men are concerned, anyway.
How does the male contraceptive work?
Considering the well documented struggles women have when taking the pill, we were excited to hear that FINALLY men might have the chance to take some of the burden off of our shoulders. Hurray!
This long overdue medical revelation works as an injection. The injection reduces sperm production and thus prevents unwanted pregnancies. It contains two hormones: progestogen that blocks sperm production, and testosterone that counterbalances the resulting reduction in male hormones.
The trial process
320 men were used in human trials for a one year period, and the success rate came back at over 96% effective. However, side affects of the injection - changes in mood and loss of libido - led to 20 subject dropping out. That's 6 per cent of the subjects (remember how women using the pill are up to 70 per cent more likely to suffer with depression?).
Whilst it's now a known fact that the pill is linked to depression, low mood and loss of libido, doctors continue to prescribe the medication to women and we all continue to take it (because apparently condoms = picking nose with gloves on etc). Yet when 6 per cent of men suffer the same symptoms, the trial is halted altogether.
Side effects suffered by the men included acne, mood swings, libido changes and all the other fun things women suffer on a monthly basis. A very unsympathetic response from global female population hit back with a resounding: "Boo hoo".
There's been enormous leaps and bounds made for gender equality over the past 50 years, but the area surrounding who bares the burden of birth control is still very much outdated. Women contribute to household finances, share a proportion of chores and seek equality within the relationship more than ever before, so why should birth control be any different?
Jessica rant: "Grr! After years of God knows how many menstrual insults, jokes and put-downs the female population have endured, when men can finally share some of the burden... and they bail on it. So, it's ok for women to put our health at risk, be responsible for preventing pregnancy, and suffer with esteem crippling side affects, but not men? Even if/when we do get pregnant, we have a new can of worms to ride out that men cannot fathom, so why it is ok for us to suffer both edges of the blade.
It appears that we have found our limit to equality in that no matter how far we strive for balance in the media, our lifestyles, careers and community, birth control is a step too far."
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