Don’t throw out your pill packs just yet, ladies. While a new, experimental birth control method for men might be effective, it didn’t pass muster test in trials. Although it mostly prevented pregnancy, side effects included mood disorders and depression.
The experimental birth control involves giving men a shot of hormones that drastically lowers sperm count. In this latest effort, men ages 18 to 45 years old—all in long-term, monogamous relationships—received hormonal shots every eight weeks. Each shot contained progesterone and testosterone, hormones known to lower sperm count and when taken together were supposed to reduce the risk of side effects.
The shots suppressed sperm production in 96 percent of the study’s participants. After 26 weeks, the couples relied solely on the shot for their birth control, forgoing any back-ups. Of the 266 men still participating after 26 weeks, only four reported theirs partners had gotten pregnant. That failure rate, about seven and a half percent, is comparable to hormonal birth control used by women. And once the men stopped using the shot, 95% said that their sperm count returned to normal levels. Only one poor man reported that his sperm count never recovered.
Despite that good news, a study released on October 27 from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism reports that though the hormones did reduce the chance of pregnancy, further testing is required before the general population can safely use the shot. That’s because many of the men in the study reported increased acne and five perfect experiencing mood swings—the latter of which women have had to deal with as a contraceptive side effect for decades. Still, only three percent of participants said they felt depressed.
The news is essentially a wet towel for women, who have been suffering through the effects of hormonal birth control for decades. We swallow pills and slap on patches hoping to make our periods disappear and stave off parenthood. Efforts to develop a birth control pill for men have persisted for years, but a commercial version has yet to reach the market. Altogether, doctors and the FDA still can’t confirm when men will soon be able to join the birth control struggle.
Imagine it, though: A woman in the White House and the possibility of guys on the pill? Two huge steps for gender equality in the 21st century.