Acne unapologetically blooms across your skin. Your mood shifts rapidly and unpredictably. Your libido is up or down like a rollercoaster, and whether you realize it or not, you might be sinking fast into depression.
If you read this and thought, “How terrible and unreal,” because you’ve never experienced any of this yourself, then I’m happy that you’ve never had to worry about these symptoms of hormonal birth control.
Which is not to say, of course, that these problems apply only to users of birth control. I just want to draw your attention to the realities of a risk-riddled treatment that millions of women worldwide deal with, because those same long-lived realities were all it took to kill a study of male birth control.
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism recently dropped this bombshell, revealing the development of “birth control shots” for males. These shots were 96 percent effective, but apparently, one of the review boards was in quite a tizzy over a different percentage: the three percent of males who experienced depression while on the shot.
Thirty percent of women experience depression while taking female birth control, as Indiana University Bloomington biology professor Elisabeth Lloyd told CNN.
I’m confused. Did the people who cut this project just . . . not know what hormonal birth control entails? Or do they just not care that these symptoms have affected people who aren’t cisgender men for, like, ever?
Because when a birth control option has a depression rate roughly 10 times lower than the one preceding it, that’s not cause to stop looking into it. That’s great! That should be like Mardi Gras in your mind! That’s progress.
As a boy, who therefore has never had to take birth control, I don’t want to overtake the voice of a demographic that I’m not part of. I do, however, want to note all of the men who participated in this study who thought the birth control shots were a great idea.
Out of 320 participants, about 75 percent were down to continue with the contraceptive. Even among those who heard about the study and weren’t interested in the shots, there were men who spoke positively of making them publicly available. Public health major Timothy Lee, told CNN that the shots should be “a personal decision” as long as the potential effects were made clear.
Some doctors, like urologist Seth Cohen, talked about how hormonal birth control is just problematic in the first place. Cohen told CNN this breaches medical ethics, that “young people’s” brains are vulnerable, and that this really just means we need to take a closer look at women’s contraceptives and their problems.
To me, a breach of ethics is expecting women to subject themselves to worse health risks than what men would have to suffer for the exact same result. It’s expecting women to be the ones who most likely pay for that birth control, because not everyone has the luxury of condoms.
If you exist in a time and place where you have access to birth control when you need it, then you’re probably able to make an informed decision about whether or not the risks are too much for you to bear, and you have a right to do so.
If women have been doing this for decades, and men are willing to start, then I don’t know why we need to complicate this issue any further. There are people worldwide who would kill for such convenient, advanced birth control methods. Give us the option, if it’s there. And if you think there are better and brighter solutions? Look for them in the meantime.