News broke recently about a study working that had developed an effective birth control shot for men (yay!) that was called off (womp). The reason for the standstill was that participants in the study had experienced negative side effects. These side effects included pain at the injection side, muscle pain, increased libido, acne, depression, etc… Does any of that sound familiar to anyone?
I’m currently taking a birth control with the following side effects listed as most common: spotting, nausea, breast tenderness, and headaches. Not so bad, right? But the less common but still possible side effects include depression, high blood sugar, weight changes, lessened sexual desire, etc. Out of all those possibilities, I personally only experienced a few (nausea, headaches, and severe weight loss), all of which were less than ideal. But I was told that these were all normal and to stay the course until my body had time to adjust. Most women I’ve discussed birth control with have said that they also had some pretty gnarly side effects, but since it’s so common I guess we all just write it off as something we just have to deal with.
That’s why this news of the study ending was so disheartening for a lot of women. Birth control has been around for women for long enough that no one really talks about the effects it has on us anymore. And seeing the side effects we feel so often being talked about so thoroughly now that men have felt them is definitely enough to make us feel ignored.
None of this is to belittle the side effects of the men effected in the study, or to say that I think it was wrong to end the study when it became unsafe. As opposed to what a lot of people have been saying, these men are not “wimpy.” Those reported side effects are no light matter, and should be taken as seriously as they have been. In regard to the big picture, these steps taken towards developing a safe, effective form of birth control for men are to be applauded. But I’m glad it’s opened up a discussion about the effects women continue to endure (often silently) from their birth control.
Truth be told, taking birth control was still my decision (a decision that I’m privileged to have even been able to make). I did stay the course of my birth control, and now I love it. But for that period of time when I felt like I was putting my body through hell, I couldn’t stop thinking, “How is this fair?”
It’s a GOOD thing that there are plenty of options for women when it comes to birth control. But that’s the thing– women have SO many options, and men should have the same. Because with those options come a responsibility that is otherwise left entirely on women.
Featured image here.