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When we decided to take a look at a new study of birth control methods for men — a so-called "pill for men," you might call it — we knew our callers would have a lot to say.
Callers like Jim, in Cleveland, Ohio, for example.
"I think it’s high time that men step up to the plate, so to speak, and take responsibility. When I was 23, my girlfriend — who at the time was 22 — had a blood clot and passed away due to the birth control pill that she was taking. I would give anything and I would deal with a few zits or mood swings to protect a loved one. When I heard about it yesterday, I thought oh this is so fantastic and to hear that they stopped it, to me, that was mind-blowing. All the pressure is always put on the women to be responsible to do this and that to deal with the unwanted, unplanned pregnancy. It’s time that men start taking responsibility for their sexual behavior and do what is right, and I think this is a fantastic thing and I hope it makes it to market."
(Needed context: the procedure in process, an injectable hormone that lowers sperm count can also, in clinical studies, lead to depression, mood swings and pain at the injection site, along with increased acne). Other callers had similar sentiments. Caller Chris, from Nashville, TN, discussed his own family planning choices, which involved getting a vasectomy after his second child was born.
"I just want to affirm the sort of due cynicism from a lot of women and probably a lot of men listening in about the abandonment of the study because I think that generally it speaks to the historical misogyny that pervades our gender disparity...I guess in the course of the discussion [with his students about his vasectomy], it come out the rationale among all of them was that it was in some way emasculating, this was very clearly like just sort of the women’s job and even the female students seemingly admitted very quick defeat – like ya, this is more of the women’s role...I am very thankful that there is this other option opening up for men if maybe going under the knife scares them because I think it does track to us trying to build that divide, bridge across, but at the same time I think that the hang-up here is still this attitude societally that it is just not men’s problem."
Perhaps most consistently, our callers and commenters echoed the sentiment that it is "time for men to take responsibility" of family planning choices. Caller Bethanne in Raleigh, NC shared her family's story.
"We had a situation in our family where my brother got somebody pregnant that he wasn’t married to. And the woman decided to keep the baby, and unfortunately it’s been a very bad situation for – really, everyone involved. And, I feel like if he had had that option, this wouldn’t’ve happened. And I know a lot of guys that it’s happened to, and so we’re really getting a lot of babies born out of wedlock, where, you know, if the males had had an option, I don’t think a lot of males can trust females out here. So, yeah, I understand the male perspective and I really would like to see this go forward."
As our guest Dr. Lauren Hanley of Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard University Medical School pointed out — just because the study was cut short, it doesn't mean the report was not a positive one — a 97% success rate for the procedure in question puts it well above many birth control methods, like condoms or the pill, already on the market. So men may yet have the chance to make their own choices in birth control and family planning processes.
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