Feminists rejoice! The burden of the responsibility surrounding pregnancy is shifting. According to a new study, a male hormonal birth control shot has effectively prevented pregnancy.
Researchers tested the effectiveness of the drug on 320 healthy men in monogamous releationships. Participants were given 1,000 milligrams of synthetic testosterone as well as 200 milligrams of norethisterone enanthate or progestogen, which is referred to as progestin. The testosterone fools the body into stopping its own production, and the progestin stops the production of testosterone and sperm. The study was co-sponsored by the United Nations and recently published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. The contraceptive was found to be effective in 96 percent of the continuing users.
The celebration may not last long, due to negative side effects associated with the drug. Altering hormonal levels, even slightly, can affect a person’s mood drastically. A significant list of men have dropped out of the study. One case of depression was reported and 20 men ended up dropping out early due to side effects. Despite the side effects, 75 percent of the men say they would return to use this method of contraception.
An earlier study on male contraceptives was terminated due to a high risk of depression. The decision to terminate the study based on side effects was criticized by women, as the study was terminated after the drug was linked to a 3 percent depression rate when common female hormonal birth control causes a 20 to 30 percent depression rate.
Dr. Elisabeth Lloyd is a professor of biology at Indiana University Bloomington. “These risks of fertility damage are not fatal risks like the women endure with their birth control,” said Lloyd. “You have to compare what women are doing in terms of taking hormones with what men are doing in terms of taking hormones. Are they taking their life in their hands when they take the hormones? Women are. And that needs to be put right up in front when considering the risk.”
For over 60 years, hormonal birth control development was focused solely on altering hormone levels in women. The new developments could present serious implications for the birth control industry.