Google Trends: “Birth Control” vs. “Male Birth Control”

Birth Control Pill Container (The Holy Kale)

Birth Control Pill Container (The Holy Kale)

With the news that a new form of male contraception could soon be on the horizon, I was curious to see how Google searches were reflecting that.

The parameters I used were looking at the last five years worldwide.

First, here’s the trend for searches for “birth control:”

Google Trends: 'Birth Control' searches, worldwide 2012-2017

Google Trends: ‘Birth Control’ searches, worldwide 2012-2017

Not surprisingly, the interest in the topic remains consistently high throughout the timeframe. In terms of regions, the top three regions that searched the term were Jamaica (100%), Trinidad & Tobago (88%), and the United States (82%).

Since birth control is through to be traditionally the woman’s responsibility  (*eyeroll*), let’s see what happens when we put “male birth control” searches against “birth control:”

Google Trends: 'Birth Control' vs. 'Male Birth Control' worldwide, 2012-2017

Google Trends: ‘Birth Control’ vs. ‘Male Birth Control’ worldwide, 2012-2017

Wow. I didn’t expect the difference to be that great.

One thing that’s really interesting: Google Trends also pulls up related searches. The third most popular search was for “snopes male control.” Of course, Snopes is a site educated to debunking myths, so it appears that some users were curious to see whether male birth control was even a legit thing or not.

I tried searching “vasalgel” (the male contraceptive gel being tested) against “birth control” and “male birth control,” and the search for the former basically mirrored the trendline for “male birth control.”

As more options for male contraception hit the market, hopefully more users will be searching for male birth control. And also believe male birth control actually exists.

 

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Male Contraceptive Gel 100% Effective in Primate Trials

Vasalgel rendering (The Guardian)

Vasalgel rendering (The Guardian)

If you’re yearning for male birth control that isn’t a condom, you’re in luck! Scientists have been making progress on Vasalgel, a male contraceptive gel. A recent trial of the product on primates found the gel to be 100% effective at preventing pregnancy.

It’s pretty simple how Vasalgel works: the gel prevents sperm from exiting the penis. If a man decides he’d like to stop using the gel, the effects can be eradicated by using ultrasound waves to dissolve the gel. Vasalgel doesn’t affect “sperm levels or hormone production.”

Here’s how the study, conducted by scientists at the California National Primate Research, was set up:

For the study, 16 rhesus monkeys were selected to undergo the procedure before being placed back into groups with fertile females during mating season. After being monitored for six months, the researchers found that no pregnancies had occurred—the typical pregnancy rate in such unaffected conditions is usually around 80 percent.

The Parsemus Foundation funded the research for the study. Results were published in Basic and Clinical Andrology journal.

Vasalgel isn’t the only contraceptive gel being tested right now. In India, reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance (RISUG) is being tested on men. This gel works differently in that it seeks to injure swimming sperm. RISUG has shown to be effective for up to 10 years within the 200 men on whom the product was tested.

The Philippines Might Get Access to Free Birth Control

Birth control pills (Salon)

Birth control pills (Salon)

Women in the Philippines might soon get access to free birth control.

The Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order for women of the country to receive free birth control, as well as access to further reproductive health services.

The order implements the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Act of 2012, which promotes family planning with the support of the state. It was signed into law that year. The order took 13 years to be signed into law (so it was introduced in 1999…yikes).

It’s estimated that there are currently 6M women without birth control within the country, with 2M women classified as poor. There are 24 live births per every 1K people, giving the country the 66th highest birth rate in the world. Considering that abortion is illegal, the need for some form of birth control is high:

More than half of all pregnancies in the Philippines are unintended, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and more than 90 percent of unintended pregnancies occurred in the absence of modern contraceptive methods.

Duterte’s goal is to completely eradicate any “unmet family planning needs” by 2018.

Women Taking The Pill More Likely to be Treated for Depression

Birth Control Pill Container (The Holy Kale)

Birth Control Pill Container (The Holy Kale)

Do you feel depressed? Are you on The Pill? There might be a correlation.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) followed 1M+ women ages 15-34, with average age of 24. The longitudinal study followed Danish women from 1995 to 2013 who had no prior history of depression. The average time between follow-ups was 6+ years.

Women who were on a combination of oral contraceptives were “23% more likely to be prescribed an antidepressant,” usually within the first six months after beginning the Pill’s regimen. But women on the progestin-only pills (a synthetic form of the progesterone hormone) were “34% more likely to take antidepressants or get a first diagnosis of depression” than women who didn’t take the hormonal contraceptive.

The risk primarily targets teenagers, and the risk inversely correlates with age (i.e. the risk decreases as one gets older).

It’s suggested that higher levels of progesterone may lower mood (which is controlled by estrogen). But researchers noted that women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression than men within their lifetime, so the study’s findings are something to consider. It should be noted that the researchers have called for more follow-up studies to corroborate these findings.

Which U.S State Has the Highest Maternal Mortality Rate?

Pregnant woman (SLO County)

Pregnant woman (SLO County)

You wouldn’t necessarily guess that *any* state in the U.S. has a high maternal mortality rate (i.e. mothers who die due to pregnancy- and birth-related complications), but one has that dubious honor. And that is the great state of Texas.

In the September issue of medical journal Obstretics and Gynecology, a report found the following:

The maternal mortality rate in the United States increased between 2000 and 2014, even while the rest of the world succeeded in reducing its rate. Excluding California, where maternal mortality declined, and Texas, where it surged, the estimated number of maternal deaths per 100,000 births rose to 23.8 in 2014 from 18.8 in 2000 – or about 27%.

Bet you didn’t expect that, right? (I certainly didn’t.) But how bad is it really?

From 2000 to the end of 2010, Texas’s estimated maternal mortality rate hovered between 17.7 and 18.6 per 100,000 births. But after 2010, that rate had leaped to 33 deaths per 100,000, and in 2014 it was 35.8. Between 2010 and 2014, more than 600 women died for reasons related to their pregnancies.

Texas is part of the developed world, so the maternal mortality rate surge cannot be explained by “war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval.” So what is it?

In recent years, Texas has severely decreased women’s access to spaces that offer medical services for reproductive health. In 2011, “the Texas state legislature cut $73.6M from the state’s family planning budget of $111.5M.” This measure resulted in 80 clinics closing across the state. Planned Parenthood clinics were also completely eliminated, which cut off access to reproductive health measures for lower-income women especially. Planned Parenthood had previously served 130K+ women across the state.

While Texas restored the family planning budget to its original level in 2013, the damage was already done: Many clinics are still struggling to provide the same level of care and service they provided before the cut. But Texas clinics are now offering free IUDs, so there’s some hope they’ll be flourishing soon.

 

 

 

California Will Now Offer Picking Up a Year’s Worth of Birth Control Pills in One Prescription

Birth control pills (Salon)

Birth control pills (Salon)

Once again, California blazes the way for the rest of the nation. Last week, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that states that women will be able to pick up a year’s supply of birth control pills at one time. Before this law passed, pharmacists were only able to dispense birth control in three-month supplies. (And I know I’ve had trouble with even that.)

Worried about if your insurance will cover it? No need: the new law also requires that the new year-at-once be covered in healthcare plans.

The new law goes into Jan. 1, 2017.

Texas Planned Parenthood Will Now Provide Low-Cost IUDs

IUD (NY Mag)

IUD (NY Mag)

It’s one small step forward, but it’s still a step for womankind. Earlier this month, the Greater Texas branch of Planned Parenthood announced that they would now offer intrauterine devices (or, as they’re more commonly known, IUDs) to women who would otherwise be unable to afford them. This benefit is due to a $2M donation from the Boone Family Foundation and the Harold Simmons Foundation, with each foundation donating $1M.

This isn’t the first time a large donation to Planned Parenthood has made more birth control options possible. Colorado also received a donation earmarked for providing free IUDs. The program resulted in a 42% drop in teenage abortions, and 40% drop in overall teen pregnancy rates.

Texas’ program will begin in September. The IUDs will be available on a sliding scale fee-basis for 1K women per year.