Women have almost a dozen forms of birth control, some more invasive than others with various risks attached, whilst men have two – condoms and a vasectomy. However, recent developments could mean a contraceptive gel has shown a lot of promise during trials in primates, could become the next biggest thing in male birth control. Vasalgel, as the gel is being called, works by blocking the vas deferens, the tube which sperm travels down, therefore preventing those fluids from leaving the body. The soft gel is designed to be reversible, and could prove to become one of the biggest breakthroughs in contraceptive technology.
The potential behind this male birth control is unlimited, with initial trials yielding a 100% success rate so far, and proving to have little to no negative side effects on the test subjects. This is a big step up in contraceptives, not just for men, but also for women. Female birth control is known to have some undesirable side effects, especially when it comes to invasive procedures such as hormonal implants or intrauterine devices.
Those two types of contraceptives represent some of the more effective and popular female birth control methods, but are known to cause issues: hormonal swings and inconsistent periods for hormonal implants, and uterine perforation and increased change of pelvic inflammatory disease, for the IUDs. Other forms of female contraception, such as the pill, are known to affect hormones and rely on constant use to be fully effective, whilst, barrier-type contraceptives like the female condom tend to be more expensive and more cumbersome than the male option.
Whilst Vasalgel’s success is being monitored closely, scientists are waiting to see if their initial results are able to be replicated outside of the trial group. Several other male contraceptives – such as the jab – proved to be successful in non-human trials, only to flounder when testing began on humans, uncovering multiple unwanted side effects, including depression and hormonal imbalances.
However, if this new gel does prove to be effective in humans, expect it to become a game changer. Advances in male contraception may help transfer the burden of expectation of birth control use from women to men, or at least make men more likely to use a more effective option, than those currently on the market.
PS.article picture does not represent the actual product.