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Breakthrough in male birth control could create cultural changes on campus

The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.

We've all seen the phrase splashed across Twitter or Facebook - "Why would you shoot a gun at a bulletproof vest rather than just unloading the gun?" - in reference to birth control.

The question makes sense: why have women been taking birth control for years when it would be more logical for men to be the ones preventing pregnancy?

Well the answer may be right around the corner: a non-profit called the Paremus Foundation has developed a male birth control called Vasalgel.

The medicine, which would be given by a one-time injection, is in trial stages, but is primed to be on the market in 2017.

If Vasalgel becomes available for the average American in the next few years, we wonder what the outcome could be.

Paremus describes their target market as males in their 20's or 30's who are dating casually, which seemingly would include the average college male as well. Additionally, the company says that the injection would cost "less than the cost of a flat screen television." This is a wide range, but we assume they mean that the one-time injection would cost less than $1000.

For a company committed to developing low cost medical approaches, this seems like a steep price to the editorial board. Female birth control pills can be free depending on your medical insurance, and condoms only cost a few dollars. The convenience of a one time injection is certainly a factor, but how many young adults would pay for the injection? We doubt many college-age males would.

We at The Miami Student also question what Vasalgel would do to the condom market. Obviously this new male birth control does not prevent STDs, but if someone was with a partner whom they knew was STD-free, why would condoms be necessary? And if this new male birth control became mainstream, would buying condoms be coupled with the assumption that you or your partner have STDs?

Possibly the biggest question of all centers around whether or not females would be willing to trust males with the responsibility of birth control.

For years now, women have been taking birth control and controlling the responsibility of contraception. Although condoms are also used regularly, it is typically considered a woman's job to prevent pregnancy; form taking the pill, using condoms and even taking Plan B pills. Would Vasalgel change all that?

The Editorial Board thinks not. Although it is indeed the woman who would become pregnant, any man in their 20's or 30's that isn't in a committed relationship also has reasons to avoid fatherhood.

We believe that although Vasalgel could give men more control over their own sex life, women would still continue to take birth control pills as a precaution. After all, it's better to be over prepared than under prepared.

So where does this leave the average Miami student? If Vasalgel does become available in the next few years, we at The Miami Student don't believe it would become commonplace on college campuses unless it becomes far less expensive.

That being said, college women would still use birth control and condom use would continue to be the standard form of birth control and STD prevention.

Vasalgel, and the idea of male birth control in general, has a lot of possibilities. However, unless this new medication is thoroughly tested and widely available, we doubt it will have any real impact in the next five years.

In the meantime, students should take advantage of birth control methods that are available and continue to practice safe sex. Miami University's health center offers free condoms to students and nearby pharmacies at Kroger and Walgreens provide women a place to pick up their birth control prescriptions without having to go far away.

The Editorial Board thinks the Paremus Foundation has come up with something groundbreaking that could change cultural norms; however, only time will tell whether or not Vasalgel will become a useful tool in preventing pregnancy.