There is a new option for males who want to use contraceptives. While until now only withdrawal and condoms were valid alternatives, a new product called Vasalgel promises a better solution.
The product, as the name implies, is a gel that's close to 100 percent effective and is fully reversible. The product is often compared with a vasectomy that can be easily undone, while still offering similar benefits.
Vasalgel, Reversible Male Contraceptive
The polymer gel is under development by a non-profit organization called Parsemus Foundation, located in California. The organization's aim is to find cheap solutions that the pharmaceutical market has neglected up until now.
The pioneering treatment is a gel that's injected into a man's testicles and mimics the effects of vasectomy, blocking sperm during the sexual intercourse. The treatment blocks the tube through which the sperm usually gets to the penis, making pregnancy close to impossible.
Back in February 2017, the gel was found to be effective in preventing rhesus monkeys from getting pregnant for up to two entire years.
The reason why this alternative was not created until recently is that the material from which the gel is made has to be inert and should easily be injected into a small space. At the same time, another requirement of the product is to remain relatively flexible in one place in order to reach maximum efficiency.
The foundation hopes to conduct the first human trial in 2018. Given that it's been recently proven that the product is entirely reversible, there are higher chances for men to sign up for the tests.
To achieve reversibility, the researchers have injected two prototypes of the medication into male rabbit subjects. After 14 months, the gel plugs were cleaned with sodium bicarbonate, which is better known as baking soda. The combination neutralized the gel and allowed sperm to be transported to the penis once again.
Vasalgel, Better Than Vasectomy?
This new treatment has similar effects to vasectomy. However, aside from being permanent, the surgical intervention may also have some other disadvantages.
Some of the complications of a vasectomy procedure include bleeding under the skin, infections, and sperm leaking. There also are some rare cases when the vas deferens grow back together, in which case the man becomes fertile again.
"Fewer than one woman out of 100 becomes pregnant in the first year after her male partner undergoes sterilization. Because male sterilization is intended to be irreversible, all men should be appropriately counseled about the permanency of sterilization and the availability of highly effective, long-acting, reversible methods of contraception for women," notes the CDC.
However, should this alternative become widely available, vasectomy would have serious competition. A treatment that simulates the effects of the surgical operation but can be undone whenever the male decides to have children could be used by a demographic that is only sure they don't want kids at the moment.
In the study published in February 2017, one of the monkeys developed granuloma, a complication that consists of a lump of sperm forming at the site where the vas deferens is tied off. While only of the monkey subjects developed this condition, vasectomy causes this quite frequently.