Most men dread the idea of permanently cutting their manhood through a permanent birth control method called vasectomy. German carpenter Clemens Bimek found a good alternative to this process by inventing the first ever male birth control switch that can turn the flow of semen on or off, making him temporarily infertile. Is this the long awaited solution to birth control?
Male birth control could take a new turn with Bimek's discovery. Two decades ago, while watching a documentary about contraception, he wondered if a sperm duct valve can control the flow of semen from the male testicles into the tube where it flows.
In 2000, he filed a patent and built the first prototype of the device in 2006.
"Many of the doctors I consulted didn't take me seriously. But there were some who encouraged me to go on tinkering and helped me with their expertise," Bimek said.
What Is Bimek SLV?
The valve, now dubbed as Bimek SLV, only measures 1.8 cm (0.71 inch) and weighs around 2 grams, just like the size of a gummy bear. It is surgically implanted on the vas deferens, the ducts where semen including sperm travels in from the testicles within just 30 minutes of operation.
Bimek SLV is reversible, easy-to-use, hormone-free and lifelong. Women may no longer have to worry about using contraception and hormones. The valve already has 365 interested users, according to its website.
SLV is made of an implant material called PEEK Optima. It is radiolucent, durable and biocompatible, which means a user can still undergo medical scans even with the implant.
PEEK Optima is widely used in implant surgeries for the past years. It is expected to last for years since it does not wear and tear.
"The perfect development, elaborate detail and tailored functionality of the spermatic duct valve, by Clemens Bimek, represents an impressive step forward for contraception and should be regarded as a medical breakthrough," said urologist Dr. Hartwig Bauer.
How Does It Work?
With a simple push of a button, the flow of sperm is diverted back to the man's testicles. The device provides the similar function of a vasectomy, except it is not permanent. If a man decides he wants to be a father, he just needs to locate the implant in his scrotum and push the same button to allow sperm ejaculation.
In fact, Mr. Bimek himself is the only man who had the valve implanted in 2009. The device was surgically implanted into his vas deferens using only local anesthesia so he can direct the surgeon.
"A third of patients want to have the operation reversed later, but it doesn't always work," Dr. Bauer, the urologist who performed the operation said. He added that the implant was desirable than vasectomy.
In 2012, a newer version of the implant replaced the older valve. PES Innovation AG invested to accelerate the development of the device and in 2015, Bimek SLV made it available to the public. If clinical trials are deemed effective, the device is expected to be released by 2018.
Clinical Trials Are Set To Start
Clinical trials are set to be initiated early this year on 25 men. The manufacturer is currently looking for volunteers to be part of clinical trials expected to start in 2016 in which volunteers will help determine if the product is safe and effective.