Male Contraceptives not as effective

George Aitch  II  NOV 19 2016

You may be familiar with the controversial decision made this year to cut short a study into male contraception. This move fuelled allegations of sexism and ignited online media debate, whilst crucially overlooking crucial results.  It seems that poor outcomes and intolerable side effects, and not sexism, are to blame for the study’s end.

Given the wide availability of the paper online, it is clear that in this case, sensationalism has trumped truth. Simply put, the male contraceptive  being tested wasn’t very effective when compared to other current methods  . Even worse given that within a year of stopping the injections, 5% of volunteers were still infertile. The reversibility of male contraception has usually been a barrier to its implementation in the past.

More concerning was the wide and intolerable side effect profile. In those tests, 45.6% developed acne. 20.7% experienced muscular pain and 16.9% experienced increased aggression and mood disorder. In 0.6% of cases depression was severe and associated with suicidal ideation Although these effects are marked, up to (80%) were happy with the injections.

Although some of these are side-effects of female contraception, the rates here are much higher without the efficacy to justify them; 96% efficacy is pretty substandard compared to other forms of contraception, especially given the need for repeated blood testing needed to monitor the effects. Female contraception is something widely used, is safe, cheap and relatively more tolerable. Comparing current methods we can see that barrier and female contraceptives are still the better choice overall.

It may be concluded that male barrier methods are better for now. However the results from this study are promising and inspire future research directions, where the science can be left adrift of sensationalist allegations and media agenda.


Behre H, Zitzmann M, Anderson RA, Handelsman DJ, Lestari SW, McLachlan RI, Meriggiola MC, Misro MM, Noe G, Wu FCW, Festin MR, Habib NA, Vogelsong KM, Callahan MM, Linton KA, Colvard DS. Efficacy and Safety of an Injectable Combination Hormonal Contraceptive for Men. J. Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2016. Full article can be accessed here: