The demand for male contraceptive methods is growing. At the moment, male birth control options are limited to the use of condoms, withdrawal or a vasectomy. A new contraceptive has appeared on the horizon, bringing the prospect of an alternative form of male birth control one step closer, with reportedly thousands of men on the waiting list.
First things first, the latest tests have proved successful in male rhesus macaques. That’s right, monkeys. A company called Parsemus Foundation has been effectively studying male conception in baboon-based clinical studies for over a year, with 100% positive results.
Their product called Vasalgel is designed to be a less invasive form of vasectomy and is injected into the sperm-carrying tube, acting as a long-lasting barrier. According to a press release: “It’s envisioned to be the first long-acting, non-hormonal, potentially reversible male contraceptive option in the market”. Meaning that if a man wishes to restore flow of sperm, the polymer is simply flushed out with another injection.
So, back to the monkeys. Sixteen individual primates received injections of the gel and allowed one week of recovery. They were then placed back to outdoor groups with three to nine breeding females and were monitored for at least one breeding season. Turned out that zero contraceptions occurred and complications were minimal.
For humans, this might also be an appealing alternative. Allegedly, surveys indicate that the majority of men would be interested in using a new contraceptive, and about 20% of couples already rely on existing male methods for reproductive control. While the product has not been tested on humans yet, the developers say they are planning to start a human trial as soon as funding is secured, based on the promising primate results.