History of Contraception

Contraception are methods and techniques taken to prevent pregnancy and protect from sexually transmitted diseases. Methods have been around since ancient times. Dating back to ancient Greeks where ways to control fertility included using magic, superstition, herbs, and drugs. Ancient Egyptian methods included purifying the woman’s genitalia with mixtures, inserting a tampon soaked in herbal liquid and honey in the vagina and crocodile feces with sour milk. During ancient times inserting objects in the vagina was also used as contraceptives in places such as South Africa as they practiced inserting vegetable seeds in the vagina, Africa using grass, and Iran using alcohol soaked sponges, and Greece pomegranate halves to trap and/or block sperm.

Fast forwarding time to the 1800’s contraception became something that was shun. The topic was considered a private affair between partners. As regulations such as the Comstock law prohibited contraceptive information and devices and doctors were not given the right to discuss any topic surrounding the subject with their patient.

Today contraception is a common practice amongst sexually active partners. There are quite a few ways to go about contraceptive methods that are approved by the FDA. According to Carroll (2015) in the United States the female birth control pill is the most common method at 25.9%. Right behind the pill is female sterilization at 25.1%. The remaining methods include the male condom 15.3%, long-acting reversible contraception 11.6%, male sterilization 8.2%, withdrawal 4.8%, injectable 4.5%, contraceptive ring or patch 2.6% and other 2%. 

The Pill

The female birth control pill remains the most common and reliable method of preventing pregnancy within the United States. In 1960 FDA approved the pill to be distributed as a method allowing women to take for pregnancy prevention. There were a few bumps in the road including a dangerous high dose when first marketed. But years later the pill is still standing strong in the United States and other countries. This contraceptive can also help women with irregular menstrual cycles, heavy bleeding during periods, ovarian cyst and acne. It is also important to note the side effects associated with the female birth control pill which include increase risk of breast cancer, nausea, breast tenderness, water retention, fatigue, weight gain, high blood pressure, migraines, depression, changes in sexual desire, blood clots, strokes and/or heart attacks.

Introducing the Male Pill

With the past few months the first male birth control pill passed clinical testing. Similar to the female pill it is taking once daily. The pill decreases two hormones in the male body, follicle-stimulating and luteinizing. This will decrease the total amount of testosterone and sperm without causing low testosterone levels. Some side effects reported from the study include acne, headaches, nausea, mild erectile dysfunction, reduced sex drive, tiredness, and weight gain.

There remains plans for future studies as researches acknowledge there is a long way to go and a ton or information to uncover. But recently researchers approached a bump in the road, that being the willingness of men using the pill as a contraceptive. A reason men are reluctant is due to the concept that taking birth control pills are women duties. Another reason being men backing out of the study because they were not willing to deal with the side effects.

Conclusion

As we take a look at the male pill side effects and the female pill side effects I think it is safe to assume they are pretty similar. Taking an even closer look many may agree that the female birth control pill includes an increased number of chronic much more serious side effects. Without disregarding the male concern we can all make light of the situation and crack a few giggles when the national and local news report men complaining about birth control side effect pain. Overall offering men a birth control pill can provide them with an increased number of options to protect against pregnancy and eliminate more serious and permanent contraceptive methods such as vasectomy.

References

Amory, John. Ted. (May 22, 2018). How male contraceptive pill could work. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/7MHOk7qVhYs

Carroll, Janell L. (2019). Sexuality Now: Embracing Diversity. Boston, MA: Cenage Learning.

Bakker, Tolulope. (April 30, 2019). The Pill for Guys: Male Birth Control Option Passes Safety Test. Retrieved from https://utswmed.org/medblog/pill-guys-male-birth-control-option-passes-safety-tests/

The View. (2019, January 15). Study: Men Won’t Take Birth Control Pill| The View. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/aQ7JC44nZwE

Wong Thomas, Sevigny Cathy, Mann Janice, Hansen Lisa, Mcmahon Sharon, & Roache Marlene. (2004). Contraception. BMC Women’s Health, 4(Suppl 1), S25.


Terri Fields is a senior at Old Dominion University majoring in Human Services with a minor in Health and Wellness. She is interested in health and fitness and how it impacts an individual’s life. Currently she works as a direct support professional at an non profit organization. In the future she plans on continuing her research in grief counseling.