Sorry, folks. It wasn’t canceled because the guys were being wimps.
A new study found that hormonal birth control shots for men could be highly effective at preventing pregnancy.
The study aimed to find out if injections of testosterone and progestogen would suppress sperm count enough to prevent pregnancy — and it did!
Starting in 2008, researchers enrolled men at 10 study sites around the world to test the safety and efficacy of a male birth control shot. Overall, the failure rate was just 7.5%.
That’s pretty awesome news. But all anyone can talk about is how the study ended in 2011 after significant side effects were reported.
The popular narrative (including a post published by BuzzFeed) was that the men were wimps who couldn't handle the side effects, or that the researchers were out of line for halting a study due to the same adverse events that women experience on hormonal birth control. Boo men! Boo science!
But none of that is true.
Here’s why they actually stopped the study:
BuzzFeed Health talked to one of study co-authors, Doug Colvard, PhD, deputy director of programs for CONRAD (a co-sponsor of the study), for the real story.
At the beginning of the study, an independent Data Safety and Monitoring Committee (DSMC) was created by the study sponsors. A DSMC is typical in most clinical studies to ensure an independent review of safety. This committee received preliminary data throughout the study to make sure it was all running smoothly. In addition to that, the researchers also reported every year to a separate review panel within the World Health Organization (WHO).
During one of these regular reviews, the panel noted that certain side effects, especially mood swings and increased libido, were higher than expected. So they decided that the risk of men continuing in the study outweighed the benefits of continuing the study to the end to obtain more complete effectiveness and safety data. They recommended that new participants should not be enrolled and that injections should stop, with all men transitioned to the recovery phase of the trial.
Vadimguzhva / Getty Images
The most frequently reported side effects included acne, increased libido, injection site pain, muscle pain, and mood disorders.
Out of nearly 1,500 adverse events reported, about 39% were determined not to be related to the medication.
That means the majority of side effects were thought to be possibly, probably, or definitely related to the medication, including one case of depression, one case of intentional overdose, and one case of irregular heartbeat after stopping the injections.
A few limitations worth nothing here: The men weren't specifically questioned about depression, anxiety, or mood swings prior to the study. And, for obvious ethical reasons, there was no placebo group in this study. Interestingly, most of the adverse events were reported at one study site in Indonesia, though the study authors do not speculate as to why that may be the case.
Hey Paul Studios / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: hey__paul
View Entire List ›