Mark Meets World: Birth control needs more tests

Mark Feuerborn

Last week, social media was ablaze with debate over the early termination of trials for a new injectable male birth control.

The findings of the study reported the following reason for suspending the drug’s trials:

“An external peer-review committee determined that, for safety reasons, recruitment should be stopped and enrolled participants should discontinue receiving injections and be transitioned to the recovery phase. This decision was based on [the] conclusion that the risks to the study participants outweighed the potential benefits to the study participants.”

The study was concluded prematurely because male participants reported symptoms including pain at the injection site, mood swings, weight gain, lack of libido and depression. Some even reported sterility, and failed to regain a normal sperm count.

Many women with past experience with birth control injections and pills found the cancellation of the study frustrating, and many of the symptoms males reported were ones women have dealt with since female birth control was released. This is understandable, as it seems that right now these symptoms didn’t appear as legitimate until a male experienced them.

However, this should not be seen as reason to criticize the participants of this study.

Volunteering to be the first to try a drug previously untested on a human subject is an endeavor that requires an extreme amount of bravery and being very diligent in reporting even a hint of a symptom could save countless others from enduring harsher symptoms that rear up later on.

Having discussed the importance of honest study participants, it’s also important to note that this male birth control trial had only 320 participants, not nearly enough to be representative of the general population. No numbers on female birth control studies could be found, but it’s doubtful they were any more effective in properly studying a fully representative group for all symptoms.

The answer lies not in halting research into male birth control, but continuing trials on it as well as opening further studies on female birth control. Neither sex should have to be told to simply grin and bear it when it comes to negative symptoms.