For years, the only method of contraception available for men, that also happens to be reversible, has been the condom, but a not-for-profit company is seeking to change that by perfecting the science behind a safe, effective method that will work for up to 12 months with only one injection.
The Parsemus Foundation, a US-based not-for-profit company, is the company behind the promising technique called Vasalgel. A new phase to the research was just entered as scientists, now onto testing in rabbits, overcame another hurdle in achieving their goals. Thus far, Vasalgel has proved to be a fully reversible damper on the fertility of men and works by blocking the tube which sperm travels through, known as the vas deferens, with a hydrogel material that is flexible and spongy. Testing on humans is set to begin later this year and if the human trials go as well as expected, the male birth control will be available to consumers on the open market as soon as 2018.
The nature of the hydrogel used to create Vasalgel means that it will still allow all the important bodily fluids to pass through but prevents pregnancy by blocking larger objects such as sperm. The report in Basic and Clinical Andrology advises that the application of the Vasalgel contraceptive is a fairly quick and easy process with the once a year injection for men and the fact that the latest animal trials suggest the method lasts longer than the developers had previously been expecting has been cause for celebration.
The leader of the condom-free contraceptive trial, Donald Waller, is a pharmacologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago and spoke out regarding the importance of the work and the progress they are making on male birth control.
“Results from our study in rabbits were even better than expected. Vasalgel produces a very rapid contraceptive effect which lasted throughout the study due to its unique hydrogel properties. These features are important considerations for a contraceptive product to be used in humans.”
An article posted in Cosmopolitan outlines the issues with other male birth control that have previously been in development. Vasalgel is the only one which does not take the route of disturbing hormones or the body’s biochemistry in men to achieve their goal, since it physically blocks the sperm it is the most simple and effective option. This fact means that unlike hormone techniques there is no risk of side effects, like a lower sex drive, associated with this technique.
The fact that this male birth control does not require a nightly or even weekly ritual in order to be effective is one of its biggest appeal since studies have shown that this regimen has reduced the effectiveness of the female contraceptive pill. The latest tests involved administering varying doses in 12 rabbits with a single injection and before long it proved effective in all of them. The ejaculate of 11 of the test subjects were found to be contain no traces of sperm almost immediately, known as being azoospermic, whilst the other one had trace amounts of sperm initially before also becoming azoospermic.
According to ScienceAlert, none of the twelve were able to impregnate females during the year-long trial and, best of all, there were no abnormal responses in the body after the time period. When seven of the rabbits had Vasalgel flushed from their system, the sperm presence and count quickly returned to normal.
Another great bonus of this contraceptive method for men will be its affordability. The Parsemus Foundation generally focuses their projects on low-cost initiatives that are without patents and as such have limited profitability, which means they tend to be overlooked by pharmaceutical companies. Their goal is to make Vasalgel available to men worldwide at a low cost.
[Image via Piotr Marcinski/Shutterstock]