Thompson: Men should share more of the burden of pregnancy prevention

Madison Thompson

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

For most women of reproductive age, birth control is part of their daily lives.

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A quick crash course in the female reproductive system from AmericanPregnancy.org shows that roughly each month, one egg is made available for fertilization for an average of two days. This means that women are typically only able to become pregnant 24 days per year.

And this doesn’t last forever. Women only have so many years of fertility before their egg production drops off, and eventually ceases.

What about men? They’re fertile 24/7, 365 days a year. Hypothetically, a man could get a new woman pregnant every day of the week. Their sperm doesn’t necessarily have an expiration date, meaning they have potentially 50 or more years worth of opportunities to impregnate women.

Access to birth control is a direct representation on our values of women and men’s reproductive and recreational activities. We don’t care if women are overburdened, so long as men can orgasm when they choose. 

Women are burdened by pregnancy prevention while men can get Viagra delivered directly to their door, yet a comparable amount of effort has not been put into a mainstream version of male contraception.

There are a plethora of options for female birth control. The pill, implant, IUD, shots and patches are some of the most common.

What these have in common is they require some sort of consultation or prescription with a medical doctor. Based on the immense burden put on women to prevent pregnancy, you would think the services would be well-funded and readily available, but we know that this is not the case

Let’s also not forget the myriad of side effects like nausea, migraines, weight gain and mood swings. Despite these deterrents, women are almost always willing to take on this responsibility. If they don’t, who will?

We tend to VILLAINIZE women’s sexual pleasure, conveniently forgetting that it is not the catalyst for unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

Women have been conditioned to believe that these side effects are just part of their responsibility as child-bearers, as if it’s something they can do on their own. A report from National Public Radio states that male birth control was trialed by the World Health Organization but was cut short when multiple men dropped out of the study due to—wait for it—the side effects.

These side effects included but were not limited to acne, depression, mood swings and weight gain — the same things women have been forced to deal with for years. The only difference is that men have a chance to decide they don’t want to participate.

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While birth control is technically available, it can require a substantial amount of time and effort to get access to it. Even if a woman were to get as far as a prescription, whether or not she can afford it is the immediate question.

Someone reading this might say that men do indeed have a form of birth control: condoms. Everyone loves condoms. They’re cheap, efficient, easy to come by and have nearly zero side effects. Not only do they protect from unwanted pregnancies, but sexually transmitted infections as well.

The convenience is unmatched. Aside from condoms, the other option is a vasectomy. How is it that we’ve found nearly any way to control a woman’s body and reproductivity, but have barely put any effort into creating multiple options for men?

This has always been the case. But those with the power to make decisions regarding reproductivity seem to conveniently forget that a woman cannot become pregnant unless a man orgasms. A man theoretically has a larger fertility window than women from puberty to death.

Think about it: When a woman orgasms, she won’t become pregnant. You need sperm for that. We tend to villanize women’s sexual pleasure, conveniently forgetting that it is not the catalyst for unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

It’s evident that women are forced to take on most of the responsibility when it comes to family planning. According to WebMD, this is in part due to the lack of reproductive services geared towards men.

Sexual health clinics, obstetricians, hospitals and family planning have almost always been focused on women. Similarly, staff is usually female, and there is little training on male reproductivity.

Colorado State University is lucky to have the Health and Medical Center which provides condoms free of charge and has a fully functioning women’s clinic. However, consultations for birth control are specifically geared towards women. The Health Center could do a better job of giving men more options to understand reproductive safety and health.

This does not need to be an issue that divides men and women. In an era focused so much on promoting and increasing equality, we should view this as a reason and opportunity to come together and change the culture surrounding reproductive responsibility.

Madison Thompson can be reached at letters@collegian.com or online @heyymadison