Many women have a love-hate relationship with the pill.
It's great for that whole preventing pregnancy thing (99 per cent effective when used correctly!) but it can suck for a host of reasons, including risk of blood clots, sore breasts, nausea, bleeding between periods, changes in levels of sexual desire, mood swings, and depression.
Cool. Everything's fine.
You can see then why some women decide to go off birth control pills if they experience any of these side effects. You can also see why some women have been clamouring for "science" to make a birth control method for men that's not a condom.
And it seems as if we're getting even closer to that reality. Researchers have developed a male contraceptive that — and here's where it gets interesting — causes no side effects.
OK, but where's our side effect-free birth control, hm?
Anyway, that's a whole other conversation.
The research around this new proposed male contraceptive was outlined in the journal PLOS One, which explains that researchers injected a high and a low dose of a chemical compound called EP055 into male macaque monkeys to test sperm motility — the sperm's ability to move and swim independently.
They found that after the macaques were given the high dose, sperm motility fell to about 20 per cent of pretreatment levels within six hours, and after 30 hours, normal motility was not observed. By 78 hours, sperm motility was recovering, and by 18 days post-injection, sperm motility was fully recovered in the monkey.
After given a low dose of the chemical compound, the monkeys' normal sperm motility fell below 32 per cent by 30 hours after the administration, "which is considered to be sub-fertile in humans," the researchers noted.
As a result, researchers reported that "EP055 has the potential to be a male contraceptive that would provide a reversible, short-lived pharmacological alternative" that wouldn't impact men's hormones.
How nice for men.
As a reminder of all the hardships women have had to endure because of the pill, Broadly points out that when the oral contraceptive pill was being developed, researchers had trouble finding women who could handle the pill's side effects, leading them to force women to participate in clinical trials.
"Women locked up at a Massachusetts mental asylum were signed up. Women enrolled in medical school in San Juan were told they had to take part in the medical test or face expulsion, " Ann Friedman wrote in The New Republic.
Seventeen per cent of participants experienced side effects such as "nausea, dizziness, headaches, stomach pain and vomiting." And three women died during the study.
Before women were considered for trials, researchers actually looked at hormonal birth control for men, but "it was rejected for men due to the number of side effects," Holly Grigg-Spall, author of Sweetening the Pill, told Broadly, "including testicle shrinking." As a result, researchers concluded that women would be able to handle the side effects better than men.
But this side effect-free birth control isn't the only contraceptive for men that's in development.
An experimental male contraceptive is also in the works, which was discussed in a study conducted by the University of Washington and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in California, according to a press release.
Dimethandrolone undecanoate, or DMAU, was successfully tested on 83 men, and was concluded to be a safe and potentially effective birth control method after being taken daily for one month.
Scientists have also developed a sperm-blocking gel, which has so far been tested on male monkeys, and has prevented female monkeys from conceiving.
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