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Birth control blues

author: alex lawlor | staff writer

Credit: American Life League

Recently, there was a study published involving the testing of a male birth control injection; however, the study was terminated early due to adverse effects on the men, even though it was found to be 96 per cent effective. So, as usual, the internet has blown up with controversy. Why are these side effects crucial when it comes to men?

Interestingly, a lot of the side effects that men are experiencing are the same side effects that female birth control options can create. Some of the listed side effects include acne, injection site pain, and mood swings. This has brought up the question over whether men are wimps or not, as well as whether the researchers of the study were simply babying the men; regardless, there’s also many other sides to the story, like the actual report from the study, as well as the history of the tests on female birth control.

So, what does the actual report say? Well, to start, the study was terminated because they were “following the recommendation of an external safety review committee.” Did the tests on female birth control have an external safety review committee? Given the history behind the tests, this is unlikely. The conclusion of the male birth control study, deciphered by an anonymous Facebook comment: “[Testing] was stopped because the risks to the participants outweighed the benefits, but it was also to preserve the sample size so they could get on to the recovery phase of the study.”

The history behind the female birth control pill is rooted in the mistreatment of the test subjects, effectively sterilizing hundreds of women. These women varied from non-consenting psychiatric patients to being approved to test on the women in Puerto Rico, because it was seen as an effective way of population control. Then, once the pill was marketed to women in the United States, this history was promptly forgotten, and the product was spun to be liberating for women. So, given the history of the tests, it’s not all that surprising that the number of side effects is often ignored.

The media has only further exaggerated the controversy regarding the tests. USA Today has posted an article on the subject, with the headline of “Male birth control study nixed after men can’t handle side effects women face daily;” although it is true that many women face these side effects from all kinds of birth control, is it true that men can’t handle them? Headlines like this can be a little misleading, and seem to further lead to pitting women and men against each other.

Even though it is definitely relevant to be questioning why the tests on the men were stopped so fast, it’s not only a question pitting men against women as well as who can handle the side effects better, but also a question of the time that the tests were taking place. Had the study on the effects of female birth control taken place in 2016, would the results have been the same? I would hope that if they had, the same results would have been found.

About Alexa Lawlor