No Big Surprise Here, Men Can't Handle the Birth Control Pill...

No Big Surprise Here, Men Can't Handle the Birth Control Pill...

Well, this sounds familiar: A handful of men withdrew from a "groundbreaking" University of Edinburgh study on male birth control because it gave them mood swings. 

OK, to be fair, it's a little more complicated than that.

The contraceptive — a cocktail of hormones administered as an injection — was proven to be about 96 percent effective among the 320 male participants. (For comparison, the hormonal birth control pill that women know and love put up with has a 99.9 percent success rate when used correctly.) 

But despite its decent results, the research was abandoned after 1,491 "adverse events" were reported by the men throughout the course of the study — even though 38.8 percent of those events weren't related to the contraception, and the adverse events that *were* connected to it were expected and noted in the study's consent form, the researchers explained. 

Plus, out of those adverse effects, 91 percent were classified as "mild," while 99 percent were "mild or moderate." The most serious adverse effect throughout the course of the study was a suicide, but it was deemed unrelated to the contraception after the the victim's family reported that he ended his life after being unable to cope with his "academic pressure." 

One case of depression was also reported and assessed as "probably" related to the study, and 20 other men discontinued the study due to product-related side effects including the aforementioned mood swings as well as "acne, pain or panic at first injection, palpitations, hypertension, and erectile dysfunction."

After this study came out, some mocked men for being too weak to handle birth control, while others argued that the side effects are nothing to joke about.

As for us, we're not about to put anyone down, especially since these men were taking part in a study to help us learn more about a drug that could be really, really great one day, if/when its kinks are worked out. But we are frustrated that these men's complaints (about an experimental drug, nonetheless) were taken seriously immediately, while women's complaints about hormonal birth control have been ignored for DECADES. 

As Broadly noted in a comprehensive look at the evolution of female birth control, not only have hormonal contraceptives recently been linked to depression, but the way they were developed around the mid-20th century is undeniably sexist and racist. 

You should read the entire piece over at Broadly, but here's a quick preview: 

  • Since contraception was illegal in most states in the early to mid-1900s (and because most American women back then weren't willing to put up with side effects like blood clots, bloating, and mood swings), researchers forced mentally ill women and female medical students in Puerto Rico to take the pills WITHOUT telling them what exactly they were taking.
  • When the first version of hormonal birth control was finally approved by the FDA in 1960, it was rejected by men because it resulted in too many negative side effects (uh, probably because it contained TEN TIMES the amount of hormones needed to prevent pregnancy). "It was believed women would tolerate side effects better than men, who demanded a better quality of life," Broadly reported.

Female birth control *has* gotten a bit better over time, in terms of reducing the amount of negative side effects women experience, but we still have a ways to go. At least we have options nowadays — or at least until Donald Trump is inaugurated



Haley is a writer, editor, and illustrator from Wisconsin, so please don't serve her an Old Fashioned unless it contains brandy. Outside of work, you'll find her aquascaping, getting bossed around by her bird, or planning another trip to Australia. She currently lives in Chicago, where she's having a hard time adjusting to the whole "no ketchup on hot dogs" thing. Feel free to send your pizza recs/Kardashian konspiracies her way. Currently reading: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.

Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @haleyhenschel.


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