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1968: Seven different

1960: Enovid is approved as a birth


brands of the Pill ex-
control pill and Searle becomes the
ist and a film entitled
first pharmaceutical company to sell
“Prudence and the Pill”
oral contraceptives.

1970
reveals the Pill’s pop 1970: The safety of the Pill

1960
culture status. goes to court and leads
to the FDA requiring oral

1965 contraceptive packages


to contain possible side

F
1957: Enovid is approved by the FDA effects. Throughout the
to treat women with severe More than 6.5 decade, sales drop by 20
menstrual disorders and requires ifty years ago, the world of con- Sarah Mendez, a sophomore nurs-
million women percent, but the Pill re-
traceptives changed. Women ing major, thinks male contraceptives will
label warning of prevented ovulation. mains the most common
are taking oral contraceptive.
can now choose from different promote sex beyond family planning. “I defi-
contraceptives. colors, brands and dispensers. nitely think (male contraceptives) would in-
1954-55: Pincus joins with Dr. John Rock to test They no longer have to suffer crease the practice of sex more,” she says,
progesterone in 50 women. The progesterone is given from severe cramps, acne or be “because if they’re making it safer, coming up
for 21 days and withheld during menstruation. The stud-
ies reveal that women do not ovulate while on the pill. 1980 at high risk for pregnancy. They
get to use the “magic pill” birth
control activist Margaret Sanger envisioned.
with something for males as well for females,
then why not?”
Since the Pill was first put on the
1951: Sanger meets Gregory Pincus, a scien- Today, the Pill is the number one contracep- market May 9, 1960, the social acceptance lev-
tist, and asks him to invent her “magic pill.” tive among men and women. el has differed from generation to generation.

The Pill: 1984


In October, Carl Djerassi, a chemist, creates For the last 50 years, the Pill has Kara Kozikowski, a sophomore history major,
a progesterone pill with the same chemical been associated with women, but as technol- says today the Pill has a positive connotation.
makeup the Pill will have. However, Djerassi ogy has advanced, that distinction is diminish- “(The Pill is) the easiest form of birth con-
doesn’t think to test it as a contraceptive. 50 to 80 ing. Researchers in seven different countries, trol,” she says, “and also, parents who don’t
including the U.S., have been creating steroid want their kids on birth control can kind of
million women hormones to suppress male sperm produc- rationalize it like, ‘it helps with periods, it
use The Pill tion. The only male contraceptives currently helps with acne.’ You can spin it other ways

1950
Not Just for
worldwide. available on the market are condoms and va- that aren’t necessarily, ‘You can’t have sex
sectomies. Females, on the other hand, have without getting pregnant.’”
about different 12 contraceptive options. Al- Two years ago, Wang and her team
though research on this topic has been go- of researchers began working on a gel to sup-

1940 1990
ing on for years, researchers are still trying
to find the best combination of hormones to
suppress sperm. Because males produce many
press sperm with nestorone, a compound
similar to the hormone involved in the female
menstrual cycle, and testosterone, the male

1930
Women
sperm at a time, suppressing it is more dif- sex hormone. The gel can be placed on any
ficult than stopping ovulation. part of the body, though Wang says earlier
Christina Wang is one of many re- studies applied the gel on men’s arms and ab-
1990: After years of safety searchers who specializes in male contra- domen for convenience.

1928 By: Alyssa Newman


uncertainty, the government,
medical professionals and the
public declare the Pill as safe
ceptives. She is a National Institute of Child
Health and Human Development funded in-
vestigator at the Los Angeles Biomedical Re-
When asked his opinion about male
contraceptives, Jason Peters, a senior criminal
justice major, thought they weren’t necessary.
The ovarian
and effective. search Institute (LA BioMed). “I wouldn’t get them,” he says. “For guys, it’s
hormone, “I think (male contraceptive research) always been condoms.”
progesterone, is is an important problem because you have mat- Phoebe Mason, junior speech pathol-
identified. ters for female contraception, and family plan- ogy and audiology major, agrees. “I pretty much
ning should be a shared responsibility between think abstinence is the best method of any
men and women,” Wang says. “Matters need to birth control,” she says. “But if people aren’t

2000
be reasonable for men in addition to condoms going to abstain, then there are other ways

1920
and vasectomies.” Wang says if researchers can (like vasectomies or condoms).” Mason went
2002: The Pill is the
find the answer to male contraceptives, it’ll allow on to say she doesn’t believe male contracep-
1912-14: Margaret Sanger leading method of
for a user-friendly way for men to help space out tives would be as effective as condoms and the
imagines a “magic pill” contraception in the
pregnancy, as well as offering an alternative to Pill. “I do not think male contraceptives would
used for contraception. U.S. and 11.6 million
females who cannot use female contraceptives. be as functional and because men do not have
She coins the term “birth women ages 15-44
control” in The Women’s are on it.
Rebel, her self-created
magazine devoted to
distributing contraceptive
information. 1910 2010: The pill celebrates
its 50th anniversary. 2010
Information gathered from www.pbs.org

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a sperm cycle equivalent to the menstrua- respective analysis that Wang and her re-
tion cycle, preventing sperm from being search team investigated. “In the respective
emitted seems unnatural and less practical analysis, we show that if you stop the hor-
than regulating menses,” she says.

mone, the sperm count recovers,” Wang
Tyler Studer, a freshman explor- says. “In other words, this is a reversible
What’s happening in
Ad.
atory major, says he wouldn’t invest in the matter.” The ability for the sperm count male contreceptive
gel either. “I wouldn’t pay for it,” he says. to be reversed can benefit males who de-
“If women need to take a pill then men cide later in life that they’d like return to research today?
should kind of not have to.” their normal sperm production in order
No matter what method to have children. Right now, men can only
students choose, Studer says birth control stop sperm production by getting a vasec- Wang and her LA BioMed
goes both ways. “If a woman takes it upon tomy, which is difficult to reverse. The gel Research Team are using nestorone
herself to do birth control, then there’s no hormone would offer an opportunity for and testosterone on 60 men in an
reason why a guy shouldn’t own up to the temporary sperm reduction. exploratory double-blind study, a
same responsibility,” he says. “I feel like too In addition to the gel being re-


study that neither the researchers
many guys go into sexual situations ex- versible, Wang says in smaller two-year
nor the participants know who is
pecting the girl to be on the pill and too studies, she found that side effects are
many girls expect that a guy is going to minimal, and those that do exist aren’t receiving the actual hormone.
have a condom. It’s our severe in young men. Al- The purpose of the study is
responsibility to take though some facts have to see if the administrated hor-
initiative of our sex life, been evoked from the mone will reduce the sperm pro-
regardless if you’re a It’s our studies, Wang says that duction in men. If the study shows
guy or girl.” researchers are focus- that the steroid works, Wang says
Regardless of responsibility ing more on finding out her team will go on to perform
whose responsibility to take initiative the best combination for larger studies.
birth control is, Wang the medication and how


says male contracep-
of our sex life, it should be delivered,
Since the hormone takes
tive research is more regardless if rather than its efficien- longer to work and it’s an intensive
challenging than female cy, which has proven in study, Wang says research partici-
contraceptive research
you’re a guy or smaller studies. pants have to be willing to commit
because it takes lon- .
girl The primary target of to taking the “medication without
ger for them to work. — Tyler Studer these studies is for couples really benefit to themsel ves.” In
All studies pertaining who are in stable relation- addition, since the efficacy of the
to male contraception ships, want to avoid preg- hormones hasn’t been entirely
will take at least three months to conduct nancy or are trying to space out children, proven, the men are encouraged to
and exploratory studies take six months. not necessarily for STD prevention.
use other methods of birth control
Wang has been working with As for the future of male birth
male contraception for the last 30 years control, technology is not advanced in addition to the gel.
and other universities like the University enough yet to turn the hormone into a pill To ensure the men remain
of Washington, the joint center to LA consumed by mouth. Instead, Wang says in good health throughout the
BioMed, have also researched this. the only way to suppress sperm is by using studies, Wang says they are doing
Since researchers began explor- gels, injections or implantable palettes. physical examinations, asking how
ing male contraceptive possibilities, two “I think it’s important that the patients feel and taking blood tests.
principles have emerged. “The first thing is United States is a primary supporter of The hormone levels are also be-
that you use a male hormone plus a pro- this National Center of Health,” Wang ing monitored to ensure that each
gestin (a steroid hormone similar to says. The National Institute of Health is
individual receives the appropriate
progesterone),” Wang says. “If you use the a part of the U.S. Department of Health
female hormone plus a progestin, you will and Human Services and is the primary amount of the steroid.
be equally suppressed and sperm comes federal agency for conducting and sup- Wang hopes to conclude
consistently to lower levels. This is because porting medical research. Wang says the the exploratory study by the mid-
progestins alone will decrease production continuation of male contraceptive re- dle of next year. In the meantime,
of testosterone by the man’s testes.” search rests on the NIH, as well as gain- the research team is in the process
The second principle concerns ing support of companies interested in of planning a study that would use
data from more than 1,700 men in a investing in these studies. a new oral male hormone called
Dimethanrolone. Wang hopes this
hormone will be “effective either on

*
The pill and female sterilization have been Fun Facts its own or will be effective together
the two leading contraceptive methods in with a progestin.”
the United States since 1982. In 2009, China released a
study that concluded that testos-

*
The pill is the contraceptive method most widely used by terone injections were effective in
women who are in their teens and 20s, women who are cohabit- preventing pregnancy in the men’s
ing, women with no children and women with at least a college partner. The injections had been
degree. Information gathered from www.guttmacher.org given to 700 men in a large group.

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