Male Birth Control Is Coming But Can Guys Handle the Side Effects?

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

A study published this week has established that hormonal birth control for men can be an effective method for preventing pregnancy. The study was conducted with over 300 men between the ages of 18 and 45, all tested for healthy sperm count and in monogamous relationships with women. The men received injections for over a year, with the researchers administering and monitoring the effects throughout the study.

As detailed in a press release on ScienceDaily, the birth control study had a nearly 96% success rate. “Only four pregnancies occurred among the men’s partners during the efficacy phase of the study,” the release states.

The study also revealed an interesting note about side effects occurring in a number of the volunteer participants. In the midst of the research, they stopped enrolling new men into the study “due to the rate of adverse events, particularly depression and other mood disorders.” Other side effects reported included muscle pain, acne, increased libido, and injection site pain. Just over 6% of the men — 20 in total — dropped out of the study because of these reported side effects.

Men’s typical methods of contraception are somewhat more limited than those of women. Aside from condoms, which are typically attributed with a 98% success rate when used as recommended, and vasectomies (with nearly a 100% success rate), the other methods available to men cannot compete with the reported 96% success rate achieved through this new research study. Only abstinence can guarantee unwanted pregnancies won’t occur for men.

For those of you who are interested in lining up for these birth control shots, one of the study’s authors Mario Philip Reyes Festin, MD, underlines that “more research is needed to advance this concept to the point that it can be made widely available to men as a method of contraception.”

So, it will be a matter of time before a shot, or series of shots, can help stem the over 40% of pregnancies that are unintended that happen every year. Time, and whether or not guys are willing to deal with the possibility of the side effects.