Argumentative essay – Need for Male Birth Control

Having men play an active role in family planning efforts has been challenged by the continued resistance to male birth control. Much of such resistance still lies with the socially-constructed gender roles that relegate the place of the woman to the home, as a mother and a caregiver. Secondly, resistance to birth control, not only for men but also for women, has been fomented by cultural and religious beliefs that view use of contraception as a contradiction of their duty to reproduce and fill the earth. Thirdly, historical events where governments, specifically slave masters, used birth control to limit the upsurge of specific races has created conspiracy beliefs around the use of birth control in such races, thus curtailing the reception of birth control as a means of family planning. Irrespective of the foregoing, in contemporary societies where women are increasingly play more demanding tasks away from home, and the need to have manageable families in times of high costs of living, the need for men to share the responsibility of birth control arises especially with development of better non-invasive means of contraception.

The argument for the need for male birth control is firstly brought about by its relatively lower side effects compared to female birth control. In a review of contraceptive technology, Trusell (39-40) presents various dangers and side effects of female contraceptive methods that are not associated with male contraceptive. For instance, the most common contraceptive method used by women in the United States, the oral contraceptive pill (Mosher et al. 1), is associated with far worse health side effects compared to the most common contraceptive approach used by the men – the condom. The oral contraceptive pill is for instance associated with health risks such as cardiovascular complications, depression and breast cancer compared to the male condom whose major health risk is anaphylactic reaction to latex (Trusell 39). Even when compared with corresponding female contraception methods, male contraceptives still show lower health risks. For instance, when compared to female barrier contraceptives, in exception of the female condom whose reception among women is low (Mosher et al. 1), the male condom has fewer effects. Similarly, vasectomy also carries lower health risks compared to the female counterpart, tubal ligation (Trusell 40). Due to such unwanted side effects, many women discontinue the contraceptive use thus exposing themselves to heightened risks of unwanted pregnancies (Campo-Engelstein 23). Such indications establish the need to lower the health burden of contraceptive use placed on women by urging men to share the role of birth control.

A second implication for men to share the responsibility of birth control lies in economics, with men’s contraception approaches being cheaper than women’s are. As noted by Campo-Engelstein (22) many of women’s birth control approaches involve a visit to the physicians, as either a one-off event, or periodic visits for renewable prescriptions. Such physician visits increase the cost of birth control as opposed to, for instance, the use of condoms which would rarely require a visit to the physicians unless for rare cases of allergic reactions to latex. Similarly, vasectomy is argued to be the “most cost effective of all contraceptive methods”, which, apart from the costs of the operation, is not associated with periodic costs, and has shorter recovery period and lower long-term side effects compared to its female corresponding operation, tubal ligation (Pollack, Thomas and Barone 381-382 & 364-365 ). Such observations indicate that if the economics of birth control were to be the guiding principle, then male birth control would be economical in comparison with female birth control.

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