For over 24 hours, “Male Birth Control” has apparently been trending on Facebook. We have been hearing about this mythological creature for a few years now – nearly fifty years after the first birth control pill was approved by the FDA. So yeah, this male birth control has been a LONG time coming.
The male birth control study in question (and yes, that is the link to the actual study) began in 2008, and it involved a shot of progestogen and testosterone every 2 months. Ultimately, the study was cut short due to health risks such as”…acne, injection site pain, increased libido, and mood disorders.” Now, mood disorders can be extremely serious, but let’s get one thing straight: pretty much all longtime users of “female birth control” (if we’re keeping the lingo consistent) have experienced most if not all of these symptoms, plus a few others. And mood disorders? Oh yeah, that’s a big one.
I don’t want to downplay these health risks, but come on – they’re only a problem if they affect cis men? As a previous user of the pill myself, and a friend of current users, all I can say is that an eye roll is not enough. When it comes to birth control, we as a society have had no issue putting the burden on women. Yes, men are culturally expected to provide the condom, but who really counts on that? When it comes to specifically preventing pregnancy, all responsibility falls to the one who can get pregnant.
Now some may argue that that makes sense, but honestly I call bull. EVERYONE involved should be held responsible. Yes, if you can physically get pregnant and you don’t want to be, then sadly the only person you can rely on to prevent that is yourself and very trustworthy partners. But we as a society need to stop being satisfied with simply the pill or iuds – our concern for the uterus needs to extend beyond the fetus.
I think CNN’s Susan Scutti captured the perfect quote from Kinsey Institute faculty scholar Elisabeth Lloyd:
“These risks of fertility damage are not fatal risks like the women endure with their birth control. You have to compare what women are doing in terms of taking hormones with what men are doing in terms of taking hormones. Are they taking their life in their hands when they take the hormones? Women are. And that needs to be put right up in front when considering the risk.”
Thankfully, as reported by Snopes.com, the research has not been entirely abandoned.