The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

Men should bear the burden of birth control

Emma Cathers

Disclaimer: for the purpose of clarity, this piece uses “male” and “female” to refer to people assigned male or female at birth. We acknowledge that there is a wide spectrum of identities with the capacity to get people pregnant and carry pregnancies. The author and the Vermont Cynic recognize the spectrum of sex and gender, and respect transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals.

For too long, the burden of contraception has been placed on women. 

Over 65% of women in the United States are currently using contraception, according to a Dec. 2018 survey by the CDC.

The right to use birth control was protected by the 1965 landmark Supreme Court case Griswold v. Connecticut, which contributed to the widespread usage we see today, according to the Connecticut Judicial Branch.

Still, most hormonal birth control options are only available by prescription, which limits their accessibility. Currently, the FDA is pushing for birth control pills to be available over-the-counter, according to a June 1 NPR article.

Birth control allows for more reproductive freedom and family planning, which is crucial, considering almost 40% of women regret their pregnancies, according to the CDC.

However, the world of contraception isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. 

Women often report painful and difficult experiences when taking the pill, with 77% reporting negative side effects, according to a June 11 article by The Guardian.

Common side effects may include nausea, soreness, headaches, bleeding, weight gain and mood changes, while rarer side effects include blood clots, liver disorders, heart attack and stroke, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Thus, it only seems logical to explore advancement in male birth control.

As of right now, birth control for people assigned male at birth is limited to condoms or vasectomies.

Condoms are great, as they prevent the transmission of STDs and pregnancy, however they are not always practical in long-term relationships.

Vasectomies are often touted as another option that men should consider, but despite their effectiveness, they are considered a permanent contraceptive due to the risk of infertility following reversal, according to the Mayo Clinic.

For men who might want children in the future, vasectomies are a perilous choice.

Thankfully, there are currently three male birth control methods we could soon see on the market.

The first is Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance, which is being touted as the safer vasectomy, according to the National Library of Medicine.

It works by injecting a gel into the vas-deferens, preventing sperm from leaving the tubes for over a decade, but can also be reversed at any time.

Another option is Nestorone, a gel spread once daily on the chest and shoulders containing progesterone and testosterone, which greatly reduces sperm counts, according to an April 19 EuroNews article.

The last and most recent development in male birth control tech is a sAC inhibitor, with one dose limiting sperm mobility on demand within an hour of usage, according to a Feb. 14 Weill Cornell Medicine article.

These three options are the furthest in development, hopefully getting FDA approval soon. 

When they do, men should step up and carry the understated burden of taking birth control, especially since the side effects of male birth control are less harsh than their female counterparts, according to a 2022 Medical News Today article.

IUDs, for example, which come in either a hormonal or a copper variety and are toxic to pregnancy-causing sex cells, may cause cramping and pain, according to Planned Parenthood.

However, from most of the content on birth control I’ve consumed, from TikTok, YouTube or the experiences of peers, this is a gross and dangerous understatement. 

Most women do not get any form of anesthesia when getting an IUD and are only recommended Ibuprofen despite studies showing that it does not improve pain during insertion, according to the National Library for Medicine.

Only one of the three new birth control options for men would require any kind of surgical installation. With birth control for men seemingly being much safer and far less of a hassle, it’s a no-brainer.

In fact, I believe it would be an example of positive masculinity through the expression of responsibility, compassion and strength.

The pill liberated women from relying on men for birth control, but came with the trade-off of damaging side effects. With three new male birth control methods coming out soon, they can and should take that burden off of women forever.


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