Researchers discovered a new method of contraception for men that can prove really effective. The contraceptive consists of a gel that blocks the sperm flow. This method passed the test with monkeys and we are soon to see if it can be used as successfully by humans, too.
Vasalgel has to be injected into the tubes that transport semen down to the penis and it acts like a barrier. The manufacturing company performed a two-year trial on primates that proved successful. They are still gathering more data and are set to begin testing on men in a few years.
If the company gets the necessary funding for the human tests and if they all go well, they will seek the approval of the authorities to start commercializing the gel. If this happens, Vasalgel will be the new first contraceptive method for men on the market in many decades.
The only contraceptive methods so far available for men are either wearing a condom or undergoing a vasectomy. Vasalgel has a similar effect to a vasectomy, but the researchers hope they can make it reversible, in case the man decides later that he wants to have children. They think that another injection would be enough to reverse the effects of the gel.
Vasalgel is not the first project regarding gel used as a male contraceptive. RISUG (reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance) is currently being tested on men in India. Unlike Vasalgel, RISUG impairs the sperm. Vasalgel only blocks it and lets other fluids go through. However, both gels are administered as injections and are supposed to work over a longer period of time.
The researchers at University of California tested the gel on 16 monkeys, out of which 10 were already fathers. After a week of getting the injection, they were released among fertile females and none of them got pregnant, even though this happened during two breeding periods. However, some of the male monkeys suffered side effects.
This idea of male contraceptive could prove really successful, but the researchers need to prove that the process is reversible. The pharmaceutical companies showed not so much interest in the product in a non-reversible state.
However, men appeared to be willing to try new contraceptive methods and seemed really interested in this new gel. Although it might not be as effective as condoms when it comes to protecting against STDs, Vasalgel might be a better option than vasectomy to many men.
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