Men Have Everything (Except Birth Control)


Alexa Dembo

While women may have many IUD options to chose from, there’s no side-effect opt out.

Upon the recent public debut of a new form of male birth control (the “ballcuzzi”) by German designer Rebecca Weiss, birth control equity has come back into the spotlight. Birth control has been traditionally seen as a woman’s duty. In American society, it is typically popularized that women should (and thus are expected to) go out and get some form of hormonal birth control if they do not want to practice abstinence- leading to a higher variety of birth control options for women. Due to the normalization of birth control as “just part of being a woman,” birth control options for men are far and few between, as Healthline tells, with the current methods being vasectomies and condoms.

This lack of options seems counterintuitive, seeing as men one half of the equation. While only people with female organs can get pregnant and give birth, men and those with male reproductive systems are still the catalysts. Female reproductive organs are much more integrated inside the human body, with IUDs even possessing the risk of migrating into the abdomen. Permanent birth control methods for women are extremely intrusive, with full hysterectomies needing months of recovery. 

Men’s reproductive organs, however, are not as hard to reach and permanent methods are far less intrusive. While condoms may be tried and tested, as well as heavily popularized (especially considering their 98% success rate), women are still taught in sex-ed that “condoms can always break, they are not enough.” This is true- the National Library of Medicine reports that condoms fail 11.7% of the time and Planned Parenthood 15 out of 100 people will get pregnant if using condoms as their only form of birth control. Unsurprisingly, the narrative is that if you don’t want to practice abstinence and benefit from its 100% success rate, then women will inevitably get pregnant. Although pregnancy requires two parties, blame is usually placed on the woman. 

It’s also generalized that condoms and physical barriers make sex less pleasurable for men, as the US National Library of Medicine even reports, causing many women to feel pressured and seek out personal birth control. Taking into account these factors, it’s somewhat difficult to believe that modern society has not made a bigger push to progress hormonal male birth control technology. 

Since the FDA approval of the first contraceptive pills for women in 1960, as stated by Planned Parenthood, women have been tasked with the responsibility of many times, single-handedly, preventing pregnancies. However, why, exactly, does this “not enough” responsibility fall to women? As the gender that gives birth and traditionally raises children, the responsibility was automatically pushed onto them. At the end of the day, men are not the ones giving birth. Even if they are completely invested in practicing reproductive responsibility, they will never be as concerned since they will never have to carry a fetus.

There have been multiple hormonal male birth controls that have reached human trials. These trials were then subsequently cut short when subjects complained of the side effects, which the Atlantic notes; “mood changes, depression, pain at the injection site, and increased libido.” At first glance, this may seem understandable. After all, who wants mood changes and depression? Female birth control, though, has many side effects too, which are arguably more severe. Mirena is the most common IUD, as stated on the Kaiser Family Foundation’s website. On Mirena’s website, listed side effects are pelvic inflammatory disease, perforation, migraines, and ovarian cysts. There are other notable factors in the search for male birth control that have halted its progress, such as finding a way to interrupt sperm function without lowering testosterone levels, as BBC tells. The lack of importance placed on the search has slowed and potentially promising discoveries.

Recognizing this discrepancy is the first step towards encouraging equal pregnancy prevention measures for all genders. The patriarchy has subtly forced compliance into being content with women bearing the weight of pregnancy prevention, but modern medical advancements mean that there is no reason male-specific hormonal methods should not be seeing further development. 

By encouraging further research of hormonal male contraceptives, we can push past the barrier against them that has been normalized. Completing medical trials, publishing advertisements in sexual health clinics, and asking doctors to recommend the contraceptives to clients (given that they have proven safe) will work to eliminate the toxic stereotypes our society has fabricated.