THE HAULT OF A THE MALE CONTRACEPTIVE TRIAL HAS SPARKED CONTROVERSY. WHY DO MALES HAVE A TRIAL STOPPED WHEN IT HAS THE SAME SYMPTOMS AS THE FEMALE VERSION? ARE MEN NOT AS CAPABLE AS WOMEN? IS THEIR HEALTH MORE IMPORTANT? OR, COULD IT BE THAT THE FULL INFORMATION OF THE TRAIL IS NOT BEING WIDELY SHARED? EMILIA JIANG INVESTIGATES:
Edited by Emma Orlando
A year-long trial of an injected male contraceptive has recently been called off. The reason? Depression, muscle pain, acne and increasing libido are all reported symptoms of the trial that need addressing.
Lowering counts on the brain’s pituitary gland, the hormone-based jab is designed to effectively prevent pregnancy. But the injection was discontinued due to adverse side effects.
In the trial of 320 men enrolled, 20 of them dropped out because of the side effects.
Why did the trial really stop?
Calling men in the trial
some media blame males for the halt of the trial.
The USA Today headline read,
Male birth control study nixed after men can’t handle side effects women face daily
An Independent review mocks
Oh these poor men.
What do people think of the halt?
As a result, millions of women around the world using the contraceptive pills have shown outrage. Why? Because the male contraceptive shares the same minor side effects as the female one, with addition of irregular bleeding, risk of breast cancer and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Are the men at fault?
Before we put all the blame on the men in this trial, let’s take a closer look at the study. What was neglected a mention was that some of the consequences were actually quite serious.
The real concerns raised during the research is not men simply dropping out of the trial. The worrying adverse events include: acne (45%), increased libido (38%), “emotional disorder” (16.9%), injection site pain (23.1%), and muscle pain (16.3%). One man committed suicide and one other attempted suicide, though the reasons have not been confirmed.
Did the trial really need to be stopped?
Compared with contraception studies for women, the side effect rate in this trial is relatively high. A study found a serious adverse event rate in female contraception is only 2 percent. In studies with the Mirena IUD, the rate of acne is 6.8 per cent, when the pill reduces acne for 70% of women.
It is all bad news for the male contraceptive?
Luckily no, there is some good news:
the study actually shows some remarkable positive results.
Almost 96 per cent of couples found the drug combination was very successful in preventing pregnancy. Furthermore, satisfaction with the method was shown by over 75 per cent of men.
They even said they would use it again.
At the end of the day, this new study was only a Phase II trial – part two of a three step process to FDA approval. Enough data to know how safe and effective the drug is will need to be collected, as well as what and how common the side effects might be. Ultimately, the arrival of male contraceptive pill on the market still has a long way to go. But it does provide the thought:
should we be so quick to judge based on how media reporting presents it to be?