When it comes to conception, both men and women have equal bearing on the procreative process – at least in terms of the “ingredients” needed to “create” – yet somehow, the majority of encumbrance is placed upon the woman when it comes to avoiding unanticipated pregnancy. While women have been able to chose from a number of different types of birth control since the 1960s, most birth control options for men come in the form of only prophylactics, vasectomies, or simply tempting fate by “pulling out,” thus creating a sense that the impetus for pregnancy prevention is placed entirely upon the woman’s shoulders.
That is, until now. Recent tests and studies in the United Kingdom regarding the use of a specific type of male birth control and its ability to prevent pregnancy in dosed males’ female partners have been successful. The trial studies of the new hormonal male contraceptive shot was administered to a little over 300 monogamous males in the UK, in which every an injection was dispensed every eight weeks.
The male contraceptive shot itself is comprised of 1,000 milligrams of a synthetic form of testosterone combined with 200 milligrams of norethisterone enanthate, which is a derivative form of the hormones progesterone and estrogen, which are primarily found in women.
Basically, the combination of testosterone and pseudo-estrogen tricks the brain into thinking it is getting enough testosterone and shuts down the creation of more testosterone. Then, the progestin furthers the brain’s assumption that there is no need for more production, in turn causing the male testes to halt testosterone and sperm production altogether.
Sounds pretty impressive, right? So impressive that it might seem like the male birth control shot might actually hit the consumer market sometime soon without a snag, right?
As if that apparent lede-misdirect wasn’t enough to suggest that things aren’t quite as seamless as the previous paragraphs might suggest, the male contracepion shot has run into its fair share of roadblocks in recent days. During the portion of the trials known as the pre-efficacy stage – which basically just means “time to ramp things up” – where the monogamous couples in the trial studies were made to rely only on the male birth control injection to serve as birth control. The contraceptive was effective for 96% of participants, but there were still four confirmed pregnancies, which resulted in three live births (surely something that was wholly unexpected by the participants, so surprise!). While the pregnancies were certainly unwanted in terms of the study, new parents have been said to be happy with the outcomes.
So all in all, while the norethisterone enanthate shots don’t work 100% all the time, the hormonal contraceptives seem to be headed in the right direction.
Surveying studies of nearly 1,500 men in the UK show that 75% of men polled between the ages of 18 and 45 have expressed an interest in utilizing a hormonal contraceptive such as the male birth control shot. That being said, the primary obstacle in the future rolling out of such a treatment will be the balancing act that will be required in administering the injection to males in the late teens and early twenties, who are still riding the latter parts of the hormonal roller coaster that is puberty. Either way, it looks like the contraceptive conversation has finally reached a more common ground for the first time in nearly 60 years, whether or not it levels the playing field, is a different story – but at least it’s a start.