What Everyone Should Know About the Male Birth Control Injection

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Recently, a paper was published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism presenting research that demonstrates that a hormonal birth control injection could be effective for men. A birth control shot designed for women has been in use since 1960, so you could say it’s about time scientists develop one for other people too.

Thus far, there has been very little research done to develop methods of birth control marketed towards men, with the exception of condoms. The result of this is that in heterosexual relationships, the burden of protection often falls on women. But we aren’t the only ones who should take charge of our sexual health! This study of a male birth control injection is an exciting step in the right direction towards equalizing the responsibility.

If you want to learn more about the recent study testing a male birth control injection, keep reading!

How does it work?

The male birth control injection contains 200mg of progestin and 1,000mg of synthetic testosterone. This combination is similar to many methods of female birth control, which often combine progestin and estrogen. In biological males, progestin lowers testosterone production and decreases sperm count. This makes it less likely that the person taking the injection will impregnate their partner.

birth control injection
Credit: Framepool

What were the results of the study?

Of the 266 men who participated in the study, only four had partners who became pregnant. That means only 1.5% of cases were ineffective, which more or less corresponds to the effectiveness of almost all other methods of birth control currently on the market.

What are the side effects of the birth control injection?

None of the reported side effects were life-threatening. The most common side effects of the shot were depression, other changes in mood, and a decreased sex drive. After a year of no longer receiving the injections, eight participants had still not returned to their normal sperm count. Currently, though, only three have still not. One participant may be infertile.

Why were the studies stopped?

side effects of birth control injection
Credit: Public Domain Pictures

If you ever needed an example that sexism is alive and well, here it is. The study was halted prematurely due to “safety reasons.” In other words, the commonly reported side effects were simply too severe to continue administering the injections. This is interesting, considering that these are the exact same side effects that thousands of women report experiencing as an effect of taking hormonal birth control. Yet women are allowed to continue taking birth control pills, receiving injections, and inserting IUDs. In fact, we’re expected to seek out these methods of birth control and put our bodies at risk.

It’s almost like it’s acceptable for women to suffer more severe consequences for their sexual activity than men are. Oh wait, no, that’s exactly what it is.

Where does the gender queer community fit into the conversation?

Unfortunately, the gender queer community is left out of nearly all conversations regarding sexual health. The gender queer community is an umbrella term for all individuals who do not identify as cisgender, including those who are transgender, bigender, agender, third gender, gender fluid, and many more.

birth control injection and lgbtqia+ community
Credit: Wikimedia

Almost all methods of birth control are marketed towards women—people who have a vagina. It’s only recently that contraceptive pills and injections have been developed for men—that is, those individuals with penises. The issue with this is that “biologically female” bodies are expected to have a certain hormonal balance. A gender queer individual who was assigned female at birth might have a different ratio of hormones, though, making certain birth control methods less effective.

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Even condoms are gendered. There are “male condoms” (a condom that goes over the penis) and “female condoms” (a condom that goes in the vagina). These unnecessarily gendered labels reflect a larger societal discomfort with gender queer bodies.

It’s so important that we start to have these conversations and conduct research to ensure that gender queer individuals can engage in safe sex too. Maybe with the increased focus on developing methods of birth control for biological males, we will eventually get to the point when we have methods of hormonal birth control that work for all kinds of bodies.

When will the male birth control injection be available?

Sadly, not any time soon. Because the studies were stopped, more research will need to be conducted before the birth control injection will be available to the public. Perhaps in a couple of years, guys will be receiving contraceptive shots too!

birth control injection for men
Credit: Wikimedia

It’s clear that sexism is playing a part in the development of the male birth control injection. Personally, I think it’s great that scientists want to take more time to develop a formula that could potentially have decreased side effects. However, I think the same care and attention should be dedicated to improving hormonal birth control for women.

What do you think about the male birth control injection? Share your ideas in the comments!


Resources: USA NewsWikipedia



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  1. Don’t you dare call this sexism. The study was halted because several men were rendered infertile and at least one killed themselves. This occurred at a rate much higher than modern female birth control when you consider the numbers relatively. Do you really expect the prevention of the production on one egg per month to be as simple as the prevention of millions of sperm every day?

    Have you also not considered that males suffer from depression and skin problems at a much higher rate and more severely than females?

    Also, people *are* working to improve female birth control. That’s why there are several new types of pill every year. But you’re so caught up in your desire to push your agenda that you didn’t consider that for even a second.

    It’s disgusting that you spread this kind of flippant, ignorant stuff around just so you can pay the sexism card. People had their lives ruined and, in at least one case, ended due to these tests. Doctors stopped it because, obviously, that is nowhere near an ideal result.

    Do your research before you ever write a blog post again.

    1. Hello! Thank you for your feedback on my article.

      I would love to read some of the sources on which you are basing your claims. I did extensive research on this topic and did not find any information that stated that “at least one [participant in the study] killed themselves” as a direct result of the hormonal injection. I would be interested to know if this claim is supported by one of the official results from the study.

      I did read several reports that documented the fact that one participant (not “several”) may still be infertile–an unfortunate side effect that I noted in my “WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF THE BIRTH CONTROL INJECTION?” section.

      I would also be interested to read scientific studies that back up your claim that regarding the rate of depression and skin problems in comparison to women. I am also curious to know why the comment about skin problems is relevant in this discussion, since this injection is only being tested for cis males as a means of contraception. As far as I found in my research, the scientists did not collect data on improved skin complexion, even though that is a beneficial side effect of female birth control pills.

      Although this is not something I directly acknowledged in my article, due to the fact that it was not the focus of this piece, I am well aware of the fact that scientists are working to improve the birth control available to cis women. However, the simple fact that birth control pills and injections that cause harm to women–the same harm that was found in this study of a cis male birth control injection–yet they are still on the market IS a product of sexism. Women are permitted, even expected, to put their bodies and their mental health at risk.

      The solution is not to put this injection for cis males to be put on the market. The solution is to take birth control that has proven to be harmful to cis women off the market.

      I genuinely wish that this difference in treatment could be attributed to something other than the deeply misogynistic society in which we live. While doing my research for this article, I read information with an open mind, hoping to find a purely scientific reason to explain why a product that has been proven (for decades) to be harmful to women is sold while a very similar product for men is not acceptable. There simply isn’t one.

      If the scientists stopped the result because their results were not ideal, then they should realize that the effects birth control has on women is not ideal and take a similar action–not allow that product to be available.

      I would be happy to discuss this with you further, if you are willing to have a respectful conversation. As I said before, I would love to read the sources that backup the claims in your comment.

      Have a great day.

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