For the past sixty years a large portion of the safe sex responsibility has fallen on women, so when a new form of male birth control proved to be 96% effective there was finally hope that soon that responsibility would shift to 50/50. Unfortunately however, and you’ve probably already heard this, the trial was inevitably cancelled due to some unforeseen side effects. This is where things get a little complicated because for the most part the blame lay on the mood swings caused, which simply isn’t the full story here.
There’s no question that the disparity between male and female contraception is quite large, but this Phase II trial was in fact halted for the right reasons. Two-hundred-and-sixty-six men participated in this study and of those, only four men impregnated their female partners. These numbers sound like a remarkable success, but now we get into the side effects.
Over 250 men participated and around half saw an increased amount of acne and a quarter of them noted increased pain around the injection site. Fifteen percent of them noted an increase in muscular pains, then a few waited an entire year before their bodies started producing sperm again when the injections were finally halted. On top of all that around 20% of the participants suffered from some type of mood disorder or another and one participant committed suicide, though it was deemed unrelated by the scientists. Even with all of that around 75% of participants stated the side effects were well worth it in the end, so why was it cancelled?
When seeking FDA approval a new drug would go through three separate phases of testing, and based on the information from the first phase the side effects in the second were different. The increased mood swings didn’t necessarily appear out of nowhere but they did increase in severity. This could be the result of a faulty testing centre, though when public health is at stake taking chances such as these aren’t acceptable. The fact that the side effects were proving to be worse than originally anticipated could also point to the drug being riskier than originally thought.
So was the study halted due to mood swings? Only by a technicality. It’s a ridiculous notion that women should be the sole responsible party in a sexually healthy relationship, but at the same time we shouldn’t risk public health or safety for a quick bandaid solution. If the men were to wind up permanently sterilised then would that be an acceptable risk? It’s easy to fall in with the echo chambers when instances like these come about, so it’s important to note all the facts before passing judgement.