ifty years ago, the world of con-traceptives changed. Womencan now choose from differentcolors, brands and dispensers.They no longer have to sufferfrom severe cramps, acne or beat high risk for pregnancy. Theyget to use the “magic pill” birthcontrol activist Margaret Sanger envisioned.Today, the Pill is the number one contracep-tive among men and women.For the last 50 years, the Pill hasbeen associated with women, but as technol-ogy has advanced, that distinction is diminish-ing. Researchers in seven different countries,including the U.S., have been creating steroidhormones to suppress male sperm produc-tion. The only male contraceptives currentlyavailable on the market are condoms and va-sectomies. Females, on the other hand, haveabout different 12 contraceptive options. Al-though research on this topic has been go-ing on for years, researchers are still tryingto find the best combination of hormones tosuppress sperm. Because males produce manysperm at a time, suppressing it is more dif-ficult than stopping ovulation.Christina Wang is one of many re-searchers who specializes in male contra-ceptives. She is a National Institute of ChildHealth and Human Development funded in-vestigator at the Los Angeles Biomedical Re-search Institute (LA BioMed).“I think (male contraceptive research)is an important problem because you have mat-ters for female contraception, and family plan-ning should be a shared responsibility betweenmen and women,” Wang says. “Matters need tobe reasonable for men in addition to condomsand vasectomies.” Wang says if researchers can
nd the answer to male contraceptives, it’ll allow
for a user-friendly way for men to help space outpregnancy, as well as offering an alternative tofemales who cannot use female contraceptives.Sarah Mendez, a sophomore nurs-ing major, thinks male contraceptives willpromote sex beyond family planning. “I defi-nitely think (male contraceptives) would in-crease the practice of sex more,” she says,
“because if they’re making it safer, coming up
with something for males as well for females,then why not?”Since the Pill was first put on themarket May 9, 1960, the social acceptance lev-el has differed from generation to generation.Kara Kozikowski, a sophomore history major,says today the Pill has a positive connotation.“(The Pill is) the easiest form of birth con-
trol,” she says, “and also, parents who don’t
want their kids on birth control can kind of rationalize it like, ‘it helps with periods, it
helps with acne.’ You can spin it other waysthat aren’t necessarily, ‘You can’t have sexwithout getting pregnant.’”
Two years ago, Wang and her teamof researchers began working on a gel to sup-press sperm with nestorone, a compoundsimilar to the hormone involved in the femalemenstrual cycle, and testosterone, the malesex hormone. The gel can be placed on anypart of the body, though Wang says earlier
studies applied the gel on men’s arms and ab
-domen for convenience.When asked his opinion about malecontraceptives, Jason Peters, a senior criminal
justice major, thought they weren’t necessary.“I wouldn’t get them,” he says. “For guys, it’s
always been condoms.”Phoebe Mason, junior speech pathol-ogy and audiology major, agrees. “I pretty muchthink abstinence is the best method of any
birth control,” she says. “But if people aren’t
going to abstain, then there are other ways(like vasectomies or condoms).” Mason went
on to say she doesn’t believe male contracep
-tives would be as effective as condoms and thePill. “I do not think male contraceptives wouldbe as functional and because men do not haveInformation gathered from www.pbs.org
1912-14:Margaret Sangerimagines a “magic pill”used for contraception.She coins the term “birth
control” in The Women’s
Rebel, her self-createdmagazine devoted todistributing contraceptiveinformation.1951:Sanger meets Gregory Pincus, a scien-tist, and asks him to invent her “magic pill.”In October, Carl Djerassi, a chemist, createsa progesterone pill with the same chemicalmakeup the Pill will have. However, Djerassi
doesn’t think to test it as a contraceptive.
1957:Enovid is approved by the FDAto treat women with severemenstrual disorders and requireslabel warning of prevented ovulation.1960:Enovid is approved as a birthcontrol pill and Searle becomes thefirst pharmaceutical company to selloral contraceptives.1968:Seven differentbrands of the Pill ex-ist and a film entitled“Prudence and the Pill”
reveals the Pill’s pop
culture status.1970:The safety of the Pillgoes to court and leadsto the FDA requiring oralcontraceptive packagesto contain possible sideeffects. Throughout thedecade, sales drop by 20percent, but the Pill re-mains the most commoncontraceptive.1990:After years of safetyuncertainty, the government,medical professionals and thepublic declare the Pill as safeand effective.2002:The Pill is theleading method of contraception in theU.S. and 11.6 millionwomen ages 15-44are on it.2010:The pill celebratesits 50th anniversary.1954-55:Pincus joins with Dr. John Rock to testprogesterone in 50 women. The progesterone is givenfor 21 days and withheld during menstruation. The stud-ies reveal that women do not ovulate while on the pill.
The ovarianhormone,progesterone, isidentified.
50 to 80million womenuse The Pillworldwide.
The Pill:Not Just forWomen
More than 6.5million womenare taking oralcontraceptives.
By: Alyssa Newman