Perhaps you are one of the many people who read headlines recently about a promising new male contraceptive option.
Please take a moment to pat yourself on the back for being in the know, when it comes to reproductive and sexual health innovations.
Now, allow me to pour cold water on your fantasies.
On March 30, 2016, the Journal of Basic and Clinical Andrology published a study outlining the effectiveness of a new drug called Vasalgel. It's preemptively marketed as the first long-acting, reversible birth control option for men.
Vasalgel is a gel-like substance that can be injected into the vas deferens in order to prevent the release of sperm into other liquids, sugars and proteins that travel through the male reproductive system and make up semen. The injection therefore renders an ejaculation sterile — empty of sperm and unable to cause pregnancy.
Hmm, you are saying. Let me get this straight. This is a long-acting birth control option? That is reversible? And is the responsibility of a male?
Yes, yes and yes.
According to the study, Vasalgel lasts for at least 12 months, resulting in azoospermia (no sperm) in each of the study participants throughout the time frame of the experiment. This means that based on very preliminary investigation, using Vasalgel as a birth control option would require that a male receive one injection to have a year’s worth of results.
This is less maintenance than taking a birth control pill daily, using a hormonal ring like the Nuvaring monthly, receiving the depo shot every three months, and certainly using a new condom for every sex act.
It is also reversible. Until now, a vasectomy has been the single long-term, male-centered pregnancy prevention option available. Vasectomy is a surgical procedure where the vas deferens is severed and can no longer act as a conduit for sperm.
While a vasectomy is safe and effective, it is typically considered permanent. That's because reversing a vasectomy would be expensive, difficult and there are no guarantees that such a surgery would be successful.
“Azoospermia in rabbits following an intravas injection of Vasalgel.” BioMed Central. Basic and Clinical Andrology. Website Accessed 4/1/16.
“Reversible Male Birth Control Vasalgel Shown to Prevent Pregnancy in Rabbits.” Newsweek. Website Accessed 4/1/16.
Non-hormonal male contraceptive Vasalgel has proven efficacy in rabbits.” EurekAlert. AAAS. Website Accessed 4/1/16.