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.