Research Finds Male Birth Control Trial Has ‘Too Many Side Effects’ But All’s Not Lost

Bayo Ajibola

Male Birth Control

Male Birth Control : Mention birth control and family planning and more than half of the world think of the woman. The woman has so many options at her disposal including pills, injections, IUDs, patches and implants and the man just has the condom (vasectomies are still gaining ground due to their permanent nature and several misconceptions). Things are however about to change if a new research is anything to go by.

Research findings published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism indicate a shift into new hormonal birth control methods specifically for men. Researchers found actual evidence that a certain hormonal injection that can keep men from producing sperm. The study was however terminated three years in due to the potential side effects of the injection.

This new method involves injecting progestin and testosterone after every eight weeks. It was tested on 320 men in seven different countries and it worked, for the most part. Participants however also reported feeling pain, acne, mood disorders, an increase in sex drive and even depression. These side effects caused a safety review panel to stop further recruitment of new participants into the study in 2011 and to also stop further injections for those already participating. The team still collected all the necessary data and analyzed the findings.

Many would argue that this response to the side effects is a little of a double standard because women are exposed to the same side effects and continue to live with them. Pulling out from the trials caused a serious backlash from advocates and ethicists, saying that men are being protected from the very same things that women have to endure all year round or risk having babies left, right and center. Is it the same thing though?

How it began and what transpired

The study began in 2008 as part of an effort to come up with hormonal birth control methods for men because men only have condoms as temporary birth control. More than 75 percent of the men who went through and completed the trial said they would be willing to use it if it was available. 20 participants dropped out due to side effects with one committing suicide. The family of the one who committed suicide however said that it may have been caused by unrelated issues.

The safety concerns brought about the cancellation of the study. Doug Colvard, one of those who co-authored the study, said, “It was disappointing to everyone in the field when the study had to be stopped. There were people who felt it was justified, and there were people who felt the study shouldn’t have been stopped.”

Did it really cause depression?

This may be a little difficult to answer because the trials stopped a little early and the sample of men used was really small. It is also considered unethical to give a placebo to a control group when doing birth control trials since it could result in unwanted pregnancy. This means that there’s really no comparison for the results and whether the side effects were from the drug.

It would however not be shocking because testosterone is an anabolic steroid known to cause mood issues and also increases sex drive and causes acne. But it is also possible that those side effects were caused by something else altogether.


While women complain of adverse side effects from the use of hormonal contraceptives, there are no studies that actually link these two. The fact that the men had these side effects calls for further research and treading with caution to avoid further chaos.

There is still hope though so don’t worry ladies. The results and information collected can serve as great learning points that can be used to further improve the drug. They may gradually reduce the dosage until they find just the right amount that will stop the production of sperm without causing mental problems. Very soon, couples will be able to plan families together in every sense of the word.       

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