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New Male Birth Control Is as Effective but Has Same Bad Side Effects

by
author image Hillary Eaton
Hillary Eaton is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles whose work has appeared in VICE, Refinery29, LA Weekly and Complex. She loves writing about food, entertainment, travel and style.
New Male Birth Control Is as Effective but Has Same Bad Side Effects
Male birth-control injection is deemed effective, but it has side effects. Photo Credit moodboard/moodboard/Getty Images

While hormonal birth control has been a major game changer since its widespread adoption in the 1960s, there is one thing that women are all too familiar with: the negative side effects that come along with it. Now that a successful male contraceptive has been developed, many men who participated in the test of the new birth control found those same negative side effects to be too much of a downside.

According to a new study that tracked the effectiveness of an injectable male contraceptive, the male injection proved to be comparably effective — 96 percent effective over a one-year period — to the pill.

But while this new shot could make pregnancy prevention more of a shared responsibility, tests have already been halted due to a small percentage of the study’s men (20 out of 320 test subjects) claiming unbearable side effects.

These side effects — which, The Independent points out, are considered minor for women on the pill — range from acne and muscle pain to depression and change in libido.

“They’re the minor side effects of the combined pill,” The Independent reports, “used by 48 percent of women aged 16 to 19, 64 percent of women aged between 20 and 24 and a majority (55 percent) of those aged between 25 and 29.”

These same minor side effects experienced by only 20 men put a halt to the trial and will eat up millions of research dollars seeking to curb the side effects. These are the same side effects that women have been suffering for decades that have been deemed worth the benefits of preventing unwanted pregnancy.

Elisabeth Lloyd, a faculty scholar at the Kinsey Institute, told CNN she found the study shocking: “Twenty percent or 30 percent of the women who take oral birth-control pills experience depression and have to take medication for it. So the difference just struck me. They terminated this study once it showed 3 percent depression for the men.”

But while there is a link between birth control and increased depression for women, CNN reports that there were a few more serious issues, such as decreased fertility, for a very small percentage of the men in the study. There was also one death by suicide, but researchers claim that fatality, along with 39 percent of all other symptoms, was unrelated to the shot.

“These risks of fertility damage are not fatal risks like the women endure with their birth control,” Lloyd explained to CNN. “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 lives in their hands when they take the hormones? Women are. And that needs to be put right up in front when considering the risk.”

Regardless of the 20 men who experienced side effects from the injection, 75 percent of the users said they would be willing to continue to use this method of birth control following the conclusion of the study.

Even though it took men experiencing the side effects of birth control themselves for the risks related to those side effects to be given a serious second look, it’s better late than never.

And who knows? Maybe this means a side effects-free contraceptive will be coming down the pipe for both women and men in the future.

What Do YOU Think?

Would you take male birth control or encourage your partner to do so? Have you ever experienced side effects from your birth-control method? What method of birth control works best for you?

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