Birth-Control for men highlights double-standard

By Krystyna Serhijchuk , Columnist

Inequalities between men and women are not only evident in societal terms, but are also present when it comes to pregnancy prevention methods, specifically birth control.

Although both men and women are responsible for pregnancy, the burden of preventing it moreso falls onto women.

The latest version of injected male contraceptive was 96 percent effective in a trial of 320 men, over a one-year period. The trial, however, was put on hold due to a small number of participants experiencing intolerable side effects, and it’s been decided that more research is needed to lessen them.

Only 20 of the 320 participants couldn’t handle the drug’s side effects, while 75 percent concluded that they would use the contraception again.

But because 20 participants weren’t satisfied, the whole trial was halted. Researchers have even said that nearly 39 percent of the side effects weren’t even actually related to the injections.

These “intolerable” side effects, in reality, are the same ones that women have been experiencing on the combined pill, which are generally considered minor by doctors and the public. These include: depression, muscle pain, mood swings, acne and changes in libido.

A few men in this trial also faced some fertility issues after going off the injected contraceptive, but only one participant in this trial didn’t fully regain normal sperm count.

The risks of fertility damage for men, however, aren’t fatal as they are with women taking birth control. We should compare the risks women take in terms of taking hormonal birth control with that of men.

Women also face other, far more serious risks while taking birth control, one of the most dangerous and possibly fatal being an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis.

There’s also an increased risk of breast cancer, cervical cancer or having a stroke, as well as uncomfortable side effects such as cramps, migraines and painful periods, to name a few.

The risks and side effects women face when taking birth control are largely ignored, as the public and the medical world believe the benefits of these contraceptives outweigh the risks.

It seems a bit ridiculous and inconsiderate to put a major trial of male contraceptives on hold, especially one that has proven to be largely effective, because of a few minor side effects that do not compare to those that women endure. There generally seems to be a bias toward men in this situation.

According to urologist Dr. Seth Cohen, this male contraception trial may “wake us up to finding out better hormonal contraceptives for women,” as currently “they do not get proper counseling when it comes to contraception.”

But why are we only woken up by this fact when men are now involved with hormonal contraceptives and experience adverse effects?

When a woman complains about these side effects, she’s seen as weak and overdramatic. It’s unfair that these same adverse effects are only being seen as intolerable when a man complains about them.

We should have looked into lessening the harmful and uncomfortable side effects of birth control sooner. Or men should simply be expected to put up with the side effects, in the same way women have for years.

Krystyna is a junior in LAS.

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