Male Birth Control

 

Couples have longed for the perfect birth control for ages—one that won’t interfere with hormones or libido, is safe, affordable, and most importantly, 100 percent effective. Too good to be true? Maybe not.

A novel birth control method has already been in use for nearly 15 years, and the results are extraordinary. There’s just one twist: This contraceptive technique is only for men.

The Ideal Contraceptive?

RISUG® (Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance) is a procedure that has been in the works for decades, but it hasn’t gained much traction outside of India, where it is currently in clinical trials. But the men who have undergone RISUG offer high praise for the minimally invasive procedure created by Dr. Sujoy Guha.

Many scientists agree. “The intervention of RISUG in the vas deferens even for a period as long as eight years is absolutely safe and does not lead to prostatic diseases,” said researchers in a 2004 report published in Human Reproduction. Eight years is an underestimate—the procedure is meant to last for upwards of a decade, though it can be reversed at any time.

While male contraception is much less common than forms of female birth control, such as oral contraceptives, intrauterine devices, and patches, RISUG’s effectiveness makes it a particularly attractive, if unfamiliar, option. With little fuss and a safer sex life to boot, RISUG could be the future of contraception. It just has to cross international borders first.

How Does It Work?

A local anesthetic is applied to the scrotum at the injection site. The vas deferens—the tube that sperm pass through on their way from the testes to the penis—is extracted through the scrotum and injected with a polymer made from styrene maleic anhydride (SMA) and dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). On the market, this non-toxic polymer is known as Vasalgel™. The process is then repeated on the other side with the second vas deferens.

The highly charged polymer attaches to the inner walls of the vas deferens, and when it comes in contact with the negatively charged sperm, ruptures their tails so that they are incapable of fertilizing eggs. This is what separates RISUG from a vasectomy—sperm can still be expelled from the scrotum, but cannot reach and fertilize an egg.

The procedure typically lasts no more than a few minutes (about as long as a vasectomy), and men can return to their regular sex lives shortly after. The best part? The Vasalgel material could end up costing less than the needle used to inject it.

The reversal process is also simple, with a quick injection of water and baking soda to flush out the Vasalgel. The side effects of the procedure are minimal, and may including swelling at the injection site.

Where Can I Get It?

Clinical trials in India have already moved into Phase III, meaning that RISUG could be making its way to the rest of the world any day now. But first, the procedure must meet the rigorous health and safety standards for medical technologies in countries like the U.S.

In 2010, the Parsemus Fundation purchased the rights to bring RISUG to the American market. Their team is four months into a successful clinical trial on rabbits, and they hope to begin human trials at the end of this year. According to their timeline, the procedure could be widely available here as soon as 2015.

Is RISUG Right for Me?

Most men do not currently have the luxury of asking this question, but the introduction of improved male contraception does bring to light important questions about male sexual health.

Be sure to discuss these questions or concerns with a medical professional:

  • Am I comfortable taking responsibility for the contraception in my relationship?
  • Are there male contraceptives available in the U.S. that fit my lifestyle?
  • Am I comfortable with long-term contraception?
  • Is this procedure necessary, or am I satisfied with using condoms?
  • Have I explored all the contraceptives available to me?

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