Mere months ago, we raised our glasses and toasted the news that we were one step closer to a male birth-control shot. However, because of safety concerns, scientists said they still needed to fine-tune the shot’s hormonal combination, which means it was still something of the future. But there’s promising news about another method: A male contraceptive gel has been found to be 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy in a recent study — without the side effects of the hormonal shot.
As the Guardian reports, Vasalgel is a reversible and less-invasive alternate to a vasectomy. It works by being injected into the vas deferens, a duct in the male reproductive system that carries sperm. The gel serves as a long-acting barrier, but can be “easily reversed” by breaking it up through the use of an ultrasound. A recent study in primates, published in the journal Basic and Clinical Andrology, found Vasalgel prevents conception, and the nonprofit group that funded the work, the Parsemus Foundation, is set to start human trials as soon as funding is secured.
Lead study author Catherine VandeVoort, of the California National Primate Research Center, told the Guardian, “Men’s options for contraception have not changed much in decades. There’s vasectomy, which is poorly reversible, and condoms. If they knew they could get a reliable contraceptive that could also be reversed I think it would be appealing to them.”
The finding is promising, particularly because of the severe side effects associated with the male birth-control shot, which ranged from depression to acne and injection-site pain; unlike the hormonal shot, Vasalgel doesn’t interfere with sperm production or hormone levels in the body. Instead, the gel acts similarly to a vasectomy, with sperm continuing to be produced by the testes, and then dissolving and being naturally absorbed by the body instead of ejaculating. It just happens to be more easily reversible than a vasectomy.
“They wouldn’t have to worry about it on a day-to-day basis,” VandeVoort said. “This would be more akin to an IUD in women.”