How does the law relate to reproductive health, especially male contraception? This is a question I found myself answering in many instances whenever I presented my topic to the lecturer for approval. For once, I thought this would be a unique experience; doing something that has been missing in my field of study and the feeling of being the first to explore the idea was overwhelming. Little did I know that I was getting myself into something that would shape my general perception and career projection.
Male Contraceptive Initiative’s Statement on the U.S. Supreme Court Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade
Male Contraceptive Initiative’s vision is “Reproductive Autonomy for All.”
We fund and advocate for the development of new non-hormonal, reversible contraceptives for men and sperm-producing individuals. We envision a world in which every child birth is intentional, and occurs only after careful consideration and in line with the family planning desires of those involved. Our work closes the gap in contraception that prevents men from taking an active role in avoiding a pregnancy, but most importantly, alleviates a disproportionate and undue burden for women.
Shyann Stewart from North Carolina Central University shares reflections on what she learned during her internship with MCI in this blog post.
Unplanned pregnancies account for 45 percent of all pregnancies in the United States. In many of those cases, women were either taking ineffective birth control or not utilizing any birth control at all. Annually, approximately 700 women die in the United States as a result of pregnancy and childbirth complications, making it one of the highest rates in developed nations. Maternal mortality, like infant mortality and life expectancy, is seen as a key measure of a country's health and a bellwether indicator for assessing both human rights and public health.The purpose of this project is to create health promotion materials based on African American women’s perceived risk of maternal mortality, their contraceptive preferences and willingness to use male contraceptive methods.
Most people think that a person is either biologically female or biologically male despite their gender identity. This notion is outdated and incorrect. While there is a high prevalence of a biological binary, biological sex is not, in fact, binary. The intersex community is diverse and full of different sex characteristics (e.g., sex chromosomes, gonads, genitalia, hormones, or a combination). These characteristics don't fit into our social binary but exist naturally in biology.
This blog series highlights pertinent publications that were featured in MCI's monthly newsletter editions in the first quarter of 2022. The purpose of this blog is to report interesting or relevant work from MCI Fellows, Grantees, staff members, and other community authors in the field of male contraception.
According to Merriam-Webster, transfeminine people are whose gender identity is partially or fully feminine and differs from the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth; they are are people who were assigned male at birth (AMAB) but identify more with a feminine identity.
Our most recent MCI Youth Advisory Board member Meghana Reddy sat down with us to discuss her motivation in joining the board and her interest in male contraception. This blog post shares highlights from that conversation.
In 2021, I decided that I wanted to start my own company focused on providing non-hormonal contraceptive options for women. Before starting my business, I created my own research protocol, and was able to interview over 50 individuals about the perspectives of contraception, sexually transmitted infections (STI)s, and the stigma surrounding sexual health. Because of the responses I received, I reached out to plenty of contraceptive pioneers, and was able to connect with Heather Vahdat, the Executive Director of Male Contraceptive Initiative (MCI). Through Heather, I was exposed to MCI's Youth Advisory Board (YAB), and decided it was the right fit for my interests and previous experiences. When I was conducting my personal research, I did not meet a lot of individuals that had an immense interest in contraception, until I met the individuals in the YAB. After joining the YAB in February 2021, I was able to learn more about new male birth control methods.
The critical work developing the next generation of non-hormonal, reversible male (or sperm-targeting) contraception is ongoing, and it is likely to be years before the first of these methods is available. Despite this, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about and optimistic for the future. These new methods will be transformational in ensuring reproductive autonomy for all, addressing significant challenges like unintended pregnancies, and helping meet the lofty sustainability goals necessary to improve the health of the planet and all its inhabitants.
There is no contraceptive “silver bullet” - no one method that everyone will see as the be-all-end-all of methods.
Imagine this - there’s an injectable contraceptive that lasts for a few months, but it requires seeing a provider, in their office, to administer the drug when it’s time. Or, alternatively, there’s a new daily pill, and it has almost no side effects, but it requires strict adherence to be efficacious, and missing a dose by even a few hours can be problematic. Or instead, imagine an option that works for years on end and is very effective, but requires a provider to make a small surgical incision in the scrotum during an administration procedure, and users would be sore for a few days afterwards.
A persona is a fictional character created to represent a user type that might use a site, brand, or product in a similar way. They are incredibly useful tools in user-centered design, marketing, and other disciplines focusing on customers or “users”, and they are particularly useful during ideation activities for new products and services as they allow for the extrapolation of user preferences to inform attributes, thereby removing some of the ambiguity inherent in new product design.
Modern hormonal and prescription contraception is primarily focused on giving cisgender women, or people who identify as women who were also assigned female at birth, the means to protect themselves against an unintended pregnancy. While pills, patches, and IUDs are useful tools to help cis women control their fertility, they may fall short at protecting some cis men, trans, nonbinary, and intersex people. In recent years, there has been an increased awareness of sexual and reproductive health disparities adversely affecting LGBTQ populations.
Reproductive Autonomy For All
Male Contraceptive Initiative takes our mission seriously. We are constantly looking for ways to reach our goals and contribute to expansive contraception access.
After an internal review of how we convey our values, MCI realized it was time to update. We have updated our vision to "Reproductive Autonomy for All."
We believe that our work is more than just drug or product development. It's a mission to empower everyone with the freedom to choose how they manage their fertility, contraception, and family planning.
With the global population continuing to grow and men’s options for contraception still limited to condoms and vasectomy, the time is ripe for another contraception revolution¹.
(Image courtesy of Pixabay)
Each year, there are over 120 million unintended pregnancies experienced around the world, while the global population increases by over 80 million people. This constant human population growth has already translated to multiple significant challenges around the world, and will continue contributing to increased ecological degradation, conflict, climate change, natural disasters, global pandemics, and more. It is a reality that negatively impacts all of us. Consider this: unintended teen pregnancies in the United States are estimated to cost American taxpayers over $9 billion annually.
Our most recent intern from North Carolina Central University Edward Morris sat down with us to discuss his motivation in joining the team and his interest in male contraception. This blog post shares highlights from that conversation.
Hello, my name is Edward Morris, I am a Public Health Education student at North Carolina Central University. I am a non-traditional student who had a prior career in the United States Army as a Bradley Commander and a Chemical Operations Specialist. I served 2 tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom. I wanted to continue to serve the American people and advocate for better health for underserved communities.
(Photo courtesy of Sansum Clinic)
This blog post is written by Male Contraceptive Initiative's Youth Advisory Board Member Claudia Brewer
When we hear “male birth control,” the vasectomy may be the first thing that springs to mind for many of us. Despite this, there’s a lot of confusion out there surrounding this procedure: Is it permanent, or reversible? Does it fulfill all of men’s contraceptive needs? To get to the bottom of these questions, I did some research and spoke with Dr. Alex Koper, a urologist at Sansum Clinic with 40 years of experience performing and counseling for vasectomies.
Male Contraceptive Initiative condemns in the strongest possible terms any and all acts of violence perpetrated against any group or individual. The most pressing reason for asserting this today is the unconscionable rise in attacks on people of Asian descent in America over the past year, with at least 3,700 individual acts of violence reportedly committed against this community since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are saddened and distressed by this violence and the way it affects Asian American communities.
(Image credit: Dana Foundation - Illustration by Elizabeth A. Weaver II)
Male Contraceptive Initiative provides funding and advocacy support for the development of non-hormonal, reversible forms of male contraception. But what does “non-hormonal” mean? How do these methods differ from “hormonal” contraceptives? In this post, we share a primer on the difference between hormonal and non-hormonal contraception.
A mandate for all physicians far and wide is “Do No Harm.” A mandate in which the health of the patient is prioritized above all else, and the health benefits of any treatment should outweigh the risks of that treatment. This creates a situation in which life-saving therapies with powerful and sometimes dangerous side effects are easily justified, because without treatment a very serious diagnosis could kill the patient entirely.
Our most recent MCI Youth Advisory Board member Claudia Brewer sat down with us to discuss her motivation in joining the board and her interest in male contraception. This blog post shares highlights from that conversation.
What do you study/what's your academic background?
I’m pursuing a B.S. in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology with a Minor in Society and Genetics at UCLA. My goal in college is to gain a deep understanding of human health, from the complex molecular mechanisms underlying disease to the broader social and political implications of the latest bioengineering technologies. Most of my background is in biological research and healthcare. Most recently, I conducted research on a pathogenic protein associated with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases at the UCSB Neuroscience Research Institute. I currently serve as a scribe for a primary care physician at UCLA Health.
This blog post is written by Male Contraceptive Initiative's Executive Director Heather Vahdat, and is response to the article "The young women choosing to go without contraception"
It’s Saturday and I’m supposed to be finishing a project that was meant to be a Christmas gift for my mother-in-law...last year. However, I allowed myself a quick look on the computer to find a sewing pattern I need and poof, here I am frustrated and writing a blog post. I can’t say I’m surprised that I find myself writing about contraception - it’s the classic “one quick peek at facebook/linkedin/wherever you saw the article couldn’t hurt”. But tell me, how can I not be distracted after seeing this article in my newsfeed?
Male Contraceptive Initiative’s mission is, “to empower men, and couples, to fully contribute to family planning goals by providing them the resources they need for reproductive autonomy.” It is how we articulate our most hopeful vision of the future: one where there is reproductive autonomy for all people. This vision and associated mission directs our daily activities, which encompass financial support to the male contraception research community and advocating for the development of additional male contraceptives.
The drug development process is often presented as a linear process: you achieve one milestone before moving on to the next, with progress taking the developer ever forward. The Food and Drug Administration defines this process as such:
Based on the way that this information is conveyed, you might expect the process to visually represent something like this:
This guest blog post comes is written exclusively for Male Contraceptive Initiative by freelance journalist Raizel Joleigh.
The topic of contraception can be contentious. Women have a host of options when it comes to birth control, and these come with their own dialogue that deserves an avenue of its own. For men, though, the only methods currently available on the market are condoms or vasectomies – unreliable and costly to reverse, respectively.
This blog post is by Heather Vahdat, MCI Executive Director.
The National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published a brief related to sexual activity and contraceptive use among young people between the ages of 15-19 in the United States. Given that young people are a key population for us at Male Contraceptive Initiative, I found the report to be interesting across the board; however, one key finding particularly caught my attention: “The condom remains the most commonly used contraceptive method among female teenagers”. In fact, 97% of female teenagers who have had sex reported ever having used a condom.