Lifestyle

Will men be soon taking a new contraceptive pill?

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Last week we found out that British scientists have developed research for a male contraceptive pill. It’s fair to say that this has been long anticipated, as developments for an alternative to condoms or vasectomy first began in the 80s. Finally, we may be getting somewhere. After women taking pills for years and suffering the unpredictable side effects, it’s about time the contraceptive responsibility was more equal between the sexes.

The pill that UK scientists made breakthrough research on is said to ‘switch off sperm’s ability to swim’. They have made miniature ‘designer compounds’ which smuggle themselves into sperm and stop the tails from wiggling. This stops the sperm from swimming, preventing it from naturally fertilising a woman’s egg.

It is said to be a fast-acting pill or nasal spray that a man could take hours or even just minutes before sex. Researchers have stated that the effects appear to wear off within days, a contrast to the weeks or months it takes for women.

With the hype of the pill development in full swing, more research was announced later in the week about a contraceptive injection for men. The injection works by lowering a man’s active sperm count, stated by The Guardian as ‘switching off the male reproductive system’. This is similar to the way the contraceptive pill stops ovulation for women.

The male contraceptive injection is said to be like the contraceptive jab for females in the way that one injection can provide months of pregnancy-free sex.

It is also reportedly about 96% effective, putting it at the same level as the pill for women.

However, the current trials that were taking place to further the development have reached a stand still as some of the men who tried it have experienced unpleasant side effects. These include depression, acne and an inflated libido.

Of course, any kind of side effect should be taken seriously and putting a stop to the trials is completely understandable. But aren’t these the same side effects that women have been experiencing for years from taking the pill and other forms of contraception?

The pill being approved in 1960 marked a significant point in sexual liberation and benefited society massively. However, this led to people becoming consumed by the social hype, and the side effects women were experiencing were not being considered.

Women were expected to put up with the weight gain, changes to the skin, headaches and mood swings so that they had control over family planning.

In Broadley’s Investigation into the darker history of the pill, they also reference to three women dying during the initial trials. But trials still carried on regardless. This then makes you question why the few side effects that the men in the trials for the injection have experienced has caused such a stand still when women died and trials continued.

Despite the side effects that women experienced, the pill was released and women have been taking it for years with the side effects rarely being questioned. Now it’s all well and good that scientists are taking the time to investigate and potentially prevent the side effects experienced in the trials of the men’s injection but where’s the concern when it comes to the side effects of contraception for women?

Let’s hope the same amount of effort will be put into research for preventing the unpredictable side effects women have been experiencing for years.

Despite this controversial aspect to the developments, it would be of great benefit to both men and women if the development of male contraception continued and an end product was finally released. It would take the pressure off women being completely responsible for family planning whilst also giving them more of an option to take a break from side effects. It would also be of great benefit to men if they had more control over contraception as it would prevent cases where men are trapped into pregnancies they never intended because of a woman lying about being on contraception. It really is about time there was more equality regarding contraception as it is something that effects all genders. So hopefully this will aid the progress of equality within society as it will bring men and women together to share a responsibility that has always been pinned on women alone.

Words by Maisie Green

Sarah and Liam are your lifestyle editors.

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