One of the most thought-provoking lectures of this semester so far has been from Prof. Jenny Higgins, who introduced us to the concept of the “pleasure deficit” – that research on the use of contraception for birth control and disease prevention cannot ignore the important role of sexual satisfaction. In class, we noted that the pleasure deficit may extend to better understanding other interventions to improve healthy behaviors, such as exercise or healthy eating – which involve individual perceptions of pleasure or displeasure from such activities. A PHS 795 student draws our attention to an article and YouTube video about factors underlying the lack of parity in male birth control options. They write:
Dr. Higgins’ lecture has renewed my interest in male birth control options. I’m including an article from 2011 WIRED about Vasagel. It does reinforce the pleasure deficit, discussing that it is difficult to develop hormonal birth control that doesn’t impact male libido, without discussing the sexual side effects of female birth control that has been on the market for years. Truth be told, I feel like I’ve been hearing about Vasagel-like products for over 10 years, but we haven’t gotten any closer to parity in male contraceptive options. MTV’s feminist vlogger Laci Green rightly asks why this is the case, and offers some intriguing ideas. I feel that the pleasure deficit is part of a larger issue in which women are asked to assume both the responsibility and health and sexual side effects of contraception.