For anyone not ready to make babies, or for those who’ve already made the number of babies they always dreamed of, contraception is a part of life. As we all learned in health class, there are a few contraceptive options that have been around for years. That’s what we turn to when it’s time for a little recreation without the procreation.
But birth control solutions often target the woman’s body, either by adjusting hormones, blocking the uterus, or other mechanisms. What’s up with that? Everybody knows it takes two to tango–so researchers at the cutting edge of medical science have developed this simple product for male birth control.
Okay, How Does Male Contraceptive Work?
The product is called VasalGel, a non-toxic, non-hormonal gel injected into the vas deferens. The vas deferens, as you may know from health class, are the tubes that deliver sperm from the testes to the penis.
First, the gel is injected into the tubes. The semi-permeable substance squishes into the wrinkled interior of the tubes, forming a thick barrier that makes it impossible for sperm to pass through. The body then absorbs the sperm cells naturally.
When it’s time for the miracle of life, VasalGel beats the vasectomy because it has shown, in rabbit trials, to be fully reversible. An ultrasound machine dissolves the gel, opening the path to sperm once more.
Status of VasalGel’s Research
On August 4, 2016, scientists submitted the results of their Rhesus monkey trial to the Basic and Clinical Andrology journal. Rhesus monkeys typically have an 80% fertility rate for the breeding season. In the trial, they injected sixteen males with VasalGel, and after a one-week recovery period, released them into their group housing with 9 fertile females. During the breeding season, no pregnancies occurred.
Problems in the Male Contraceptive Monkey Trial
The study reports that of the sixteen monkeys fitted with the gel, one suffered complications due to ‘incorrect placement’ of the gel. Another monkey suffered a sperm granuloma. A sperm granuloma is the medical term for an irregular-shaped mass, or ball, of dissolving sperm. It’s a common symptom of vasectomy surgery, where the vas deferens is clamped, cauterized or tied shut. This buildup of cells can feel like a lump in the vas deferens, and it can be very painful. 
The monkey who suffered an incorrect placement of the gel had to have a vasectomy.
Existing Forms of Birth Control
There are 61 Million women in the US who are of childbearing age, or between 15 and 44 years old. Of those women, it’s estimated that 70%, or 43 Million, consider themselves sexually active and do not wish to become pregnant. This puts them at risk of an unintended pregnancy. A survey done in 2012 of these women found that the most common forms of birth control are:
- the pill
- female sterilization
- male condom
- IUD (intrauterine device)
It’s easy to see that only one of these four common options affects the male body. It’s time men carried their share of the burden! The pill and other hormonal methods can have serious health impacts on your body. A male contraceptive like this gel would be the first contraceptive that doesn’t impact a woman’s natural body in any way.
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