No go

Study on male birth control canceled due to slew of side effects

(FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

Though the male birth control shot appears to be an effective method of pregnancy prevention, it is unlikely to take off because it causes side effects like acne and mood swings.

A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism has shown that birth control shots for men are a reliable — if not foolproof — means of preventing pregnancy. The injections, which dramatically reduce a man’s sperm production, contain synthetic testosterone and a derivative of the female hormone progesterone. Researchers gave the shots to 266 men; only four pregnancies occurred among the subjects’ partners.

Despite the injection’s promise as a new form of contraception, 20 participants dropped out early due to reported side effects, and the study was cut short. The adverse effects in a small number of participants were disconcerting. After 52 weeks in recovery, eight men had not returned to full fertility, though five of those men did eventually regain normal sperm counts. Subjects also complained of less acute side effects, like muscle pain, acne, mood swings, and depression.

Some have been quick to point out that women experience many of the same symptoms when taking hormonal contraceptives that have been prescribed to females for decades. 

“Twenty percent or 30 percent of the women who take oral birth control pills experience depression and have to take medication for it. So the difference just struck me,” Elisabeth Lloyd, a professor of biology and philosophy at Indiana University–Bloomington, told CNN. “They terminated this study once it showed 3 percent depression for the men.”

Lloyd also noted that many forms of contraceptives for women can, in a small number of cases, be life-threatening.

“These risks of fertility damage are not fatal risks like the women endure with their birth control,” she explained. “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. And that needs to be put right up in front when considering the risk.”

Read the full story at CNN.

 

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