January 20th, 2015
Men’s role in birth control is generally rather limited. There are condoms of course. But many long-term monogamous couples don’t like to use them. They can be uncomfortable, fumbled with in the throes of passion and easily misused or broken. A vasectomy is another male option. Many men are squeamish about the idea, though it doesn’t hurt that bad. In fact, it’s only same day surgery. Still, it is a bit pricier and far more permanent. Meanwhile, many women don’t like the hormonal changes that come with the birth control pill, long-term. An IUD irritates some women. But now a nonprofit called The Parsemus Foundation is beginning new trials for an innovative method of birth control focused on the male side of the equation. This is a nonprofit organization which seeks “low cost solutions” the big drug companies aren’t interested in. The technique they are using has been called a liquid vasectomy. It is non-invasive, cost effective and easily reversible.
The doctor injects a gel into the vas deferens. These are two tubules that supply sperm with semen from the testes before exiting the body. These sperm cannot pass through the gel, eliminating their ability to reach and fertilize the egg. To reverse it, another liquid is injected into the same area, dissolving the polymer. The product is now in pre-clinical trials. Three male baboons have received the procedure. Each had access to between 10 and 15 females. Researchers have reported that despite ample mating, none of the females has gotten pregnant. This product does nothing against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) however, such as HIV. It should only be used by disease-free monogamous couples in a long-term relationship. If all goes well, “vasalgel” as it is called will be available by 2017. Pharmaceutical companies meanwhile may be worried about their profits from the birth control pill going once this product hits the market.