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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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!