At last. In just 2 or 3 years time, men could be using long-term contraception, which doesn't involve condoms. According to a recent press release by the Parsemus Foundation, (a not-for-profit organisation who develop low-priced medical solutions), trials of a new male contraceptive injection, Vasalgel, are showing promising results.
Did you just say injection? Yes, a small injection in your scrotum. Though that's a squeamish thought in itself, the treatment is said to be a relatively painless procedure. But if no human trials have been conducted yet, how can they be so sure?
During recent tests on baboons, 3 males were injected with Vasalgel, and they were left to cohabit with over 10 female baboons. After 6 months, none of the female baboons had become pregnant, although the tests have not been concluded. Next year, the Parsemus Foundation will have a lot more information about the effectiveness of Vasalgel.
Developers hope Vasalgel will be inexpensive, reversible and long-term. They want it to cost approximately the same as a flat screen TV. A spokesperson said: 'with enough public support, we hope to get Vasalgel on the market in 2016-2017.' The foundation will be requesting public donations to help fund the clinical tests on humans in 2015.
Despite the huge attention Vasalgel is currently receiving, people are still raising many questions – how does it work? Is the injection painful? Is it completely safe? And is it reversible?
Taking the novelty of Vasalgel into account, it comes as no surprise that people have their doubts. Before you get excited and hail the new dawn of safe sex, here are a few facts to give you more insight about the product:
Despite what the name may suggest, Vasalgel is not a petroleum jelly. Rather, it is a polymer hydrogel, which more or less means a gel, which acts as a new form of contraception for men.
Unlike the pill, which you swallow with some water, or a male condom, which is used externally, Vasalgel is an injection. The injection is administered via a quick shot in the vas deferens, a tube that carries sperm, where it creates a nearly solid plug. This makes it nigh on impossible for sperm to pass through the tubes, thus breaking down the fertilisation process.
The medical procedure is similar to a no-scalpel vasectomy, in which a doctor applies a local anaesthetic to a man's genital region before a small puncture hole is administered to his scrotum. This obstructs the trajectory of his sperm, so that it can't leave the body. A Vasalgel treatment will take around ten to twenty minutes, similar to the no-scalpel vasectomy.
Considering there would otherwise be some pain during the procedure, it is likely the injection will involve a local aesthetic, as with a no-scalpel vasectomy. Therefore it does appear the procedure will not involve much pain. However, it's difficult to tell at the moment because the trials have only been carried out on baboons.
A big selling point of Vasalgel lies in its reversibility. Should you suddenly decide to undo the procedure, all you need to do is visit the doctor for another quick injection, one that flushes out the plug that was formed initially. Since the treatment is easily undone, as proven in lab tests involving rabbits, you can change your mind at any stage, be it in 4 months or 4 years. Still, further tests are needed to verify the medication's effectiveness.
If all planned tests involving animals and humans go as expected, Vasalgel may be hitting the UK market as early as 2016 or 2017. Surely that's a good thing? Anything that allows individuals to maintain control over their own fertility can only be a positive move.