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We Shouldn't Let New Male Contraceptive Get Our Panties in a Bunch

By HERWriter
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Don't Let New Male Contraceptive Get Your Panties in a Bunch morganka/Fotolia

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.

This study, and research on similar substances, suggest that Vasalgel can be effectively flushed from the male system when desired. While the most recent report was not continued long enough to confirm this, it is possible that after a certain amount of months, Vasalgel’s sperm-immobilizing effect may wear off on its own, as well.

And yes, to confirm unequivocally — this is a MALE birth control option. A procedure performed on a MALE, impacting a MALE’s reproductive organs, requiring a MALE to take responsibility for his squirmy little DNA-carrying fetus builders.

But hold onto your IUD strings, ladies. Let’s get a few other details straight.

While this study marks extremely preliminary steps toward the creation of a long-acting, reversible male contraceptive, the key word that most other writers reporting on this story seem to be overlooking, is PRELIMINARY.

It is not necessarily the groundbreaking, headline-worthy event that some news sources are turning it into.

But HANNAH, you are shouting — don’t you get it? This could be an ENTIRELY new and innovative method for preventing pregnancy! How could you be so cynical???

Well, to start, this study is actually just an iteration of ongoing research being performed on similar gel-like substances that immobilize sperm in males’ vasa deferentia.

According to the actual journal article, India has been experimenting with more concentrated versions of this polymer for decades.

The substance that is being called Vasalgel is a hybrid with a slightly different concentration of acid and reactant. The purpose of the study was to determine whether this new combination would be equally effective as the pure version. It was not to test a totally new pharmaceutical product.

Secondly, especially when it comes to reproductive and sexual health, but really when discussing ANY kind of medical research, I like to see rigorous studies and irrefutable — not extrapolated — evidence.

This study’s findings are based on the experience of 12 rabbits. And while bunnies may be a good starting point, the sample size is TOO small and the animals are TOO different from human males for me to feel confident in the results.

While other news sources have suggested that this male contraceptive may be on the market as soon as 2018, the journal report only indicates the additional investigation is necessary.

And I don’t know about you, but if I had a penis, before I let part of my reproductive organs be injected with gel, I’d definitely want to see more extensive studies on large and varied populations that accounted for any long-term impact on the body, and were not based on subjects associated with magicians’ hat-tricks.

So, let’s remember that NEW products are NEW, and let's practice some healthy skepticism before we cancel our next well-women’s check up.

But cheer up. At least this means you are spared my rant on women releasing contraceptive control. Or the fact that this gel does not do anything to prevent sexually transmitted infections ... for now, anyway… stay tuned.

And please comment. Would you trust Vasalgel? Are there males you know who would be interested in the injection?

Reviewed April 4, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

“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.

Add a Comment8 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

no more "oopsie" for you, ladies!

April 13, 2016 - 1:33pm
EmpowHER Guest

I'm a man and I definitely love this and will definitely use it. Finally getting my freedom from evil witches.

April 13, 2016 - 8:49am
EmpowHER Guest

The fact that this isn't new technology is actually a good thing. In fact this was first developed in India and has passed through many trials there. Even suggesting it could last as long as 10 years. As a male I have been waiting 15 years since I first saw the India studies for this to come to the U.S. I would absolutely be interested in this procedure, and look forward to a time when happy monogamous couples have a safe contraception option that doesn't interfere with hormones, cause uterine agitation, or force menstration out of cycle. The only drawback I can see in Vasalgel is that it is not, does not, and will not prevent the transmission of STDs.

April 9, 2016 - 5:58pm
EmpowHER Guest

Are you aware of how FDA approval even works? NO ONE is going to be offered, commercially, a product that has only been tested in animal studies. The animal results are promising and worth getting excited over. BUT...it will have to go through comprehensive safety and efficacy human trials before being approved for general use.

And yes, I know SCORES of men and women who are interested in this option.


A woman who is actually involved in biomedical research and is ashamed at the horrific quality of this article.

April 9, 2016 - 5:26pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Yes, the FDA process is ardorous, however don't shoot the messenger for her summarizing what several sources imply that it could be here by 2018.   


Clinical trials on men are suggested to be starting in the later part of 2016.  That of course will have to been seen. 

Hannah emphasis's several times that this is preliminary research and that the journal article does not suggest it is close to being available on the market. 

thank you for commenting. 

April 18, 2016 - 5:23am
EmpowHER Guest

China?? Try INDIA (known as RISUG). How much research exactly did you do for this article. You know maybe interviewing the WOMAN behind vasalgel would be a more interesting piece than this. I for one am glad they are not subjecting excessive amount of animals to unnecessary research.

"But cheer up. At least this means you are spared my rant on women releasing contraceptive control. Or the fact that this gel does not do anything to prevent sexually transmitted infections ... for now, anyway… stay tuned." Most women's options do nothing to prevent STIs, nor does it prevent women from continuing to use the contraceptive of their choice... so don't invent an argument where there is not one.

April 9, 2016 - 1:08am
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Thank you for your correction regarding India. The article has been updated. 

April 18, 2016 - 5:25am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Michele Blacksberg RN)

Thank you. Thanks for covering this product, but let's keep it positive... This is a WIN for everyone!

April 18, 2016 - 7:40pm
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