Why it matters that men dropped out of the male birth control study

Why it matters that men dropped out of the male birth control study

This week, the internet learned of a study that tested a male birth control shot for males that 96% effectively prevented pregnancy in female partners. While scientific discovery and contraceptive advancements are usually lauded, the results of this study were met with outrage and disdain from many women.

Why? Because the study was discontinued before it could be completed.

Men dropped out of the study citing side effects including depression, acne, libido change, and intense mood swings. Certainly, many women who have used hormonal birth control could understand this.

However, instead of meeting the news with empathy, women of the internet took the opportunity to mock the men of the study for not being willing to deal with adverse side effects that women who use hormonal birth control pills have faced since their inception.

These jokes do not further the real conversation that we need to have as a society. Hormonal birth control for women has a dirty past that many do not talk about. Drug trials were forced on Puerto Rican women who did not understand the possible risks of using it. Once enough women were resistant to taking the birth control, the drug trials moved into prisons, where women could not say no.

I am appreciative that we now live in an era where people can report horrible side effects of a drug and have the trial cut short. Drug trials should absolutely not be forced upon communities who don’t understand the repercussions, or on prisoners who cannot say no. No one deserves to face depression, mood disorders, blood clots, or drastic weight gain simply because they do not want to have a child.

We can advocate that we need to have better options for women without demanding that people complete a medical trial that does not work for them. In the past, they forced Puerto Rican women and prisoners to complete the trials for female birth control, and look where that got us- a product that many women are dissatisfied with, because respondents’ needs were not taken into account.

Science will progress. We have seen now that male birth control is possible. We have seen now that the side effects of hormonal birth control are considered unacceptable by the medical community. I am excited to be alive in a time when contraception is becoming so accessible and potentially even user-friendly for people who want to use it- women and men.

6 thoughts on “Why it matters that men dropped out of the male birth control study

  1. This topic has been popping up in my social media newsfeed for the past week. Although your post makes valid points, I would like to point back to one of the first ones: men could not handle the side effects of birth control, the same side effects that many women experience, and thus the trial was discontinued. When women were being tested for the same drug, and were enduring the same excruciating side effects, why was the trial not stopped then? I think this just circles back to the fact that when men don’t want something, they won’t do it, and when they want something, they won’t stop until they get it.


  2. This was definitely all over my social media news feed as well. There were some people who agreed and some blatantly protested against men and their actions in this trial. I do agree with some of what fitfortakeoff blog said, since the injustices of women throughout history is greatly undocumented. However, as a neutral and less biased viewer, I must point out that gender equality is an underlying concept within this issue. When I say gender equality, I mean looking at all genders the same way — in reaction, in concept, in perspective. Unfortunately, what I’ve seen on my newsfeed are multiple posts by women who show backlash (mostly ‘feminists’) against men’s reactions concerning male birth control. I think it is unfair how society is making fun of these men who are breaking the stigma of birth control in general.


  3. That is really incredible and something I actually never thought of – why don’t men have their own “pill”? It’s interesting to see this but just to play a little devil’s advocate, I’ve heard from women numerous times that their doctors prescribe them the pill because it helps with “regulating their menstrual cycle.”

    Honestly, I’m not a fan of the pill since I do feel like it does a lot more harm onto the woman’s body than good, but under the context I mentioned, wouldn’t it be ok? Where as for men it may be a bit more confusing….

    Could be wrong but just my thoughts 🙂


    1. It really depends. In my own experience and social circles, I have heard many examples of women who took the wrong dose of birth control (one that was too strong/too weak) and it completely messed with their cycles, causing 3 week long periods, spotting for months, etc. It’s all about finding the right one, and even then, the side effects mentioned above are still rampant. Spencer made a good point about accepting the side effects for Viagra — if there is a want, people will accept the side effects. It’s been too established that this is a women’s responsibility. Though women have been taking birth control and managing this means of contraceptives for decades, I would argue that the inconvenience it causes doesn’t dissipate over time. Any time is a welcome time for men to shoulder the effort. That being said, I think the implications of the birth control for men (that it kills sperm?) is scary to guys that want to protect their manhood. Maybe they do need to present a healthful incentive (much like regulating cycles for women) to get males interested in swallowing the pill.


  4. I agree on what you’re saying for the most part.

    However, the only area I wanted to touch up on is the fact that these side effects, which I would be worried about myself, have not been as common in women as they were in men. Also, i’ve heard this many times, that a lot of women are on birth control because their doctors recommended it to help “regulate their menstrual cycles.” Not trying to attack anyone at all, but just wanted to engage in this convo with that thought in mind.

    Not only 1 or 2, but most women who have said they are on birth control have justified it because of that reason – while it also has it’s perks.

    Nonetheless, they should probably try to come up with more efficient methods of contraception while also avoiding the side effects – for both genders – as much as possible.


  5. This headline caught on for a reason when it blazed through facebook and buzzfeed like sites, the actual meat of the study was a dropout around 15-20% (at least from the source I read), but there have been other medications go to market with those sorts of drop out rates (look at the side effects for Viagra, if there is a need it sells no matter the effects). This comes down more to an us and them argument. And at the end of the day I think the question isn’t, “why can’t men handle their own birth control?” but “why do we have to accept the establishment for a woman’s body and a woman’s life?” And not without goo reason, we have created an establishment that women are the ones to take birth control. And in the same culture we have prescribed female-centeric fields. But who is to say a woman can’t be a successful scientist, politician, etc. And I don’t think I’m reaching at straws here. I think this article started with the wrong spin, it should be pro-woman, not anti-men.


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