Vasalgel, "the first long-acting, non-hormonal, potentially reversible male contraceptive," is successful in clinical trials with rabbits, according to a new report. A representative from the company says that clinical trials with humans will begin in...
Photo via Stocksy by Sean Locke
In recent months, scientific research into multiple new forms of male contraception has been published. These new methods of birth control include an on/off switch that controls sperm flow (good for guys into that whole cyborg thing, or those who like to straddle the razor-sharp edge of technology), and birth control pills (better suited to traditionally minded male fuckers).
Now, a nonprofit called Parsemus Foundation has just made the latest contribution to the scientific quest for virtual castration. Billed as what could be "the first long-acting, nonhormonal, potentially reversible male contraceptive to reach the market," their Vasalgel product, which is injected into the groin to form a gel that blocks sperm, could become the new standard in male birth control. After finding success in trials with rabbits, Vasalgel will begin experimenting on male human test subjects in 2016.
Should it go to market, bros and other men can look forward to an intimate, in-office experience with their physicians, something that Ben Carlson, Parsemus Foundation's director of communications,says is akin to a no-scalpel vasectomy. This bladeless operation could mean that men can finally take responsibility for their own reproductive health. "A local anesthetic would be applied to the (previously shaved) region of the scrotum where the procedure will be performed," Carlson said. "The doctor would then make a small opening in the scrotum through which to access the vas deferens." At that point, the doctor injects the product into the ducts that carry sperm, and you're done. "A bandage would be applied to the location of the puncture (no sutures would be needed)," Carlson said, adding that the whole thing would take between ten and twenty minutes."
Carlson says that for a long time, there was a general assumption that men don't want new kinds of birth control; condoms and the occasional vasectomy seemed to suit most men just fine. But that was inaccurate, he says. The findings of a 2005 multinational study found that the "majority" of men would try something new if it came along. The problem then turns to scientific development, which costs money that, Carlson says, can be hard to come by for some medical research. "Big pharma has not shown interest in pursuing the development of any new option that might simply cannibalize the market for their existing contraceptives," he said. "But thousands of people are following Vasalgel's progress with enthusiasm, and if it gets similar enthusiasm from social investors, the project has a good shot at bringing Vasalgel to the public."
For now, the only guys who've had the benefit of having their dick clogged with gel are non-human, male bunny rabbits. Carlson says that it's common to test contraception on rabbits because they're fertile all throughout the year. But rabbits aren't the only species they scienced. "We then moved on to testing in larger animals—-baboons, which are primates like us, and dogs, which have sturdy vasa deferentia like men. It has worked extremely well in all three species, although we're still working on reversal technique in the larger animals."
Right now, Vasalgel can claim to be nonhormonal but it can't yet claim to be reversible; it hasn't yet been tried on human beings. Because of this, Carlson said, "the first study in men will be small, and for men who are planning a vasectomy anyway (men who have kids already or are positive they don't want kids)." The larger animals, the baboons and dogs, have been less easy to reverse than the rabbits. But that might not be too meaningful: "We expect Vasalgel to be easier [to reverse] in men than in rabbits, because men have a larger and sturdier vas deferens tubes than most other species, even than baboons," Carlson said. "Success in the smaller, more challenging animals is a great sign and makes us confident about success in men."
Finding an effective and appealing form of male contraception has been an arduous task. But there's medication increase the hardness of men's erections, so why can't they sort out birth control? "In generations past, men may not have borne as much responsibility for the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy," Carlson said. "So it was easy to assume it was a women's issue. But this is a new generation."