The rate of teen pregnancy in the United States is significantly higher than that of many other western industrialized nations according to the Centers for Disease Control. With television shows glamorizing the ‘teen mom’ lifestyle and bringing fame and celebrity status to some of those who are living it, it is no wonder that many Americans trivialize and shrug off the seriousness of this situation.
However, in 2010 along the Centers for Disease Control reports that teen pregnancy and childbirth cost the U.S. taxpayers approximately $9.4 billion dollars. Furthermore, the lives of those involved are significantly impacted, limiting their ability to succeed in our society with only approximately 50% of teen mothers receiving a high school diploma by the age of 22, while 90% of those without children have been able to reach this milestone.
While there are many different things that we can do as a society to help turn these statistics around – including better sexual education at a young age, providing new and better opportunities for those looking to seek an education following the birth of a child or a reassessment of how we choose to feature and glamorize this lifestyle throughout the mainstream media, there is one topic that nearly always comes up in the conversation: Birth control.
It is estimated that approximately 62% of women who are currently of reproductive age are using some form of birth control regularly today, including condoms, birth control pills, implants, patches, injections, and sterilization. While both parties are equally responsible for the potential risks associated with unprotected sex, traditionally many of these options fall on the woman to put into practice. New research, however, may just change the way that birth control is viewed in our society.
A 2016 study co-sponsored by the United Nations and published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism explored the effectiveness and safety of a male contraceptive shot.
Similar to the various methods of female birth control currently on the market, providing women with a synthetic hormone in order to ‘fool’ the body and manipulate their fertility, the male contraceptive shot includes 1000 milligrams of synthetic testosterone and 200 milligrams of norethisterone enanthate, a derivative of 2 female hormones, progesterone, and estrogen, forming a synthetic hormone referred to as ‘progestin.’ When the man receives the shot, it triggers the brain to believe that the body is getting enough testosterone, shutting down its own production, and with that shutting down the production of sperm.
Working with a test group of 320 healthy men aged 18 to 45, each participant receiving the shot would provide semen samples throughout the study, allowing researchers to monitor their sperm counts. The study ultimately concluded that the shot was effective for 96% of users, offering great promise.
Unfortunately, there were a number of serious negative effects from the shot, ultimately leading to the cancellation of the study. A total of 20 men dropped out due to these side effects, and 1491 ‘adverse events’ were reported by the study’s participants. These negative effects included pain at the injection site, acne, muscle pain, and mood swings. While the cancellation of the study shows that the male birth control shot is not yet ready to be marketed mainstream, with further research and development it may be available sooner than we realize!