In what may be the most non-shocking—and yet, shameful—news to ever hit the presses of a patriarchy, it seems that studies on an effective male birth control shot have been halted due to some unseemly side effects. The injections were tested on 320 men and found to be effective 96% of the time. While this number isn’t as great as the 99.9% promised by female birth control, it’s definitely a positive start… right? Wrong. The study ended because 3% of the men involved experienced temporary side effects including depression and mood swings. Hm. We don’t know about you, but when we first tried birth control, we laid in bed for weeks crying while our hapless college boyfriend wondered if we needed to be institutionalized. If we all stopped taking birth control because of the mood-related side effects—which affect 30% of women, not 3%—we’re pretty sure men would revolt.
To be fair, a few of the men studied did have trouble regaining their former fertility after taking the drug, which is definitely cause for concern; however, as Kinsey institute faculty scholar Elizabeth Lloyd points out, “These risks of fertility damage are not fatal risks like the women endure with their birth control. 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.” In other words, it’s scientifically-condoned for those of us with two x chromosomes to risk depression, mood swings and possible death by taking birth control, but a drug which reduced fertility in 3 out of 320 men has been deemed too dangerous to so much as warrant further study. Perhaps the real issue needing to be addressed here— as Dr. Seth Cohen, a urologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, points out—is the safety of all hormonal birth control, not just the lack of safety in an as-of-yet unapproved male version. So, if the side effects endured by a few brave men attempting what many of us women do every day bring awareness to this cause, we’ll try not to roll our eyes too hard at their complaints around side effects we’ve been experiencing for years and instead say, “welcome to our world, men” with a smug (if slightly hormonal) smile.