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Birth Control: An Equal Responsibility

Bringing a human life into this world transforms a couple’s lives forever. Planning when and if you choose to do so is important for every couple’s future. The timing of pregnancy can mean the difference between the blessing of a welcome addition to the family or a child that parents may not be financially or emotionally equipped to care for and support. 

Deciding together and in advance of sexual activity on your method of contraception is important.Strangely, the least common reason for sexual intercourse is the desire for procreation which explains why and for how long women have tried to separate their sexuality from childbearing. Reliable birth control was centuries in the making, claiming many women’s lives as the toxic methods used in the interim were often fatal. 

Since the advent of the female pill in 1972, women gained more control over their own bodies and their life destinies–yet it’s clear that fifty years later– women still bear most of the burden for contraception. This includes their time, money and doctor visits for invasive procedures to obtain their prescriptions. Numerous adverse effects including headache, nassau and weight gain are associated with many birth control methods for women. 

And with the recent Supreme Court overturning of Roe v. Wade,eliminating the constitutional right to abortion, it’s become even more critical that men join in the conversation of reproductive rights.Brian Nguyen, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Southern California and the founder of Emerge Lab, a reproductive health research organization that seeks to engage men in the abortion rights conversation, said, ”men have been minimized, if not completely overlooked, in the conversation.”

Men’s reproductive autonomy is diminished by relinquishing all of the responsibility of contraception over to women. We know that men want to have a say in reproductive health–although theyare often afraid to share their feelings when it comes to reproductive rights. “In in-depth interviews, men seldom discussed personal concerns about and preferences regarding abortion,” Dr. Nguyen’s research said, possibly indicating that men had “prioritized their relationship and the well-being of their partner over their own concerns.”

Before engaging in sexual activity–discussing the best birth control method with your partner can be important to your future. Consider your budget, the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), the method’s effectiveness and the possibility of pregnancy. Equal responsibility in contraceptive planning can foster equality in your relationship. When couples take responsibility for contraception together–the future looks brighter. Issues including unwanted pregnancy and STIs can be avoided.

It’s shocking to know that there are over 100 methods of birth control for men being researched today yet only two are currently available: condoms and sterilization. Condoms, a barrier method, prevent semen from reaching the egg to fertilize it and are made of latex, plastic or lambskin. The other option, vasectomy, is a permanent, surgical male birth control. It prevents sperm made in the testes from reaching the penis. 

Human trials are expected to begin this year on a non hormonal male birth control pill, YCT529. Research presented at the American Chemical Society found that YCT529 was able to make mice sterile. It was 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy without side effects and it was shown to be reversible. Of course that’s in mice, not men. 

Accelerated research for male birth control options is needednow and ideally when the results come to fruition, contraception will become more of a shared responsibility –one in which both men and women have a role and a voice.Providing women and men withhealthy and safe alternatives to support making this monumental decision most responsibly is not only the mark of a humane society, but also one of a spiritual belief in the sanctity of life.