There is a male birth control injection, but it’s not available yet.
Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance (RISUG) has been in development for decades in India and is currently in Phase-III clinical trials. Its American counterpart, Vasalgel, is still in preclinical trials.
What we mean by “male”
We’re talking about sex assigned at birth, not gender identity or sexual orientation. That’s because these studies focus on contraceptives designed for the male reproductive system.
FYI, we cover birth control options for all men in the article Birth Control for Men Exists — But for Penis Havers, It’s Still Nonhormonal.
RISUG is a nonhormonal, reversible, polymer gel birth control injection that is currently in late-stage human trials in India. Vasalgel, which is being developed in the U.S., works the same way, but the polymers used and the formulation are different than those of RISUG.
RISUG and Vasagel work much like a vasectomy, minus the “snip.”
Rather than cutting the vas deferens — the paired tube that carries sperm from the testicles to the penis — RISUS or Vasagel is injected into it.
A local anesthetic is applied to the scrotum at the injection site first. RISUG or Vasalgel is then injected into one vas deferens and then repeated on the other side in the second vas deferens.
Once in there, the gel sticks to the inner walls of the vas deferens and damages the sperm that passes through so they aren’t able to reach and fertilize an egg.
Some research suggests that RISUG is
Other than temporary scrotal swelling and mild scrotal and inguinal pain that resolved within a month, no adverse side effects were
Vasagel has not yet moved to clinical trials. According to a post on the manufacturer’s Facebook page, Vasagel likely won’t hit the market for a “few more years”.
There are currently over 100 potential targets being researched as potential male birth control methods. This includes methods that target sperm mobility, fertilization, sperm transport, and spermatogenesis.
Let’s look at some of the notable options in the pipeline.
Nestorone and Testosterone Transdermal Gel
Researchers from the Population Council in collaboration with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development are currently conducting clinical trials of a combination hormonal male contraceptive gel.
The topical gel is a combo of Nestorone, a progestin, and testosterone that’s applied daily to the shoulders and absorbed through the skin. It targets the signaling systems for sperm production so sperm counts drop without affecting other functions.
Epididymal Protease Inhibitor (Eppin)
Eppin Pharma is developing a short-term, nonhormonal male contraceptive pill that works by binding to Eppin, a protein on the surface of human sperm. This results in the loss of sperm motility, so sperm aren’t able to swim to the egg to fertilize it.
The pill, which may be used on-demand or as a daily pill, is set to enter first-in-human studies.
Human trials are expected to begin in mid-to-late 2022 on a nonhormonal male birth control pill called YCT529.
Research presented at the American Chemical Society found that YCT529 was able to make mice sterile. It was 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy without any side effects. It was shown to be reversible after the same mice impregnated other mice after they stopped receiving YCT529.
Remember that while it was effective in mice, the results might not translate to humans.
The researchers indicated during a media briefing that if trials start in 2022 and all goes well, YCT529 could be available in 5 years, possibly sooner.
Dimethandrolone undecanoate (DMAU)
DMAU is a daily male contraceptive pill that reduces testosterone and sperm production. It does this by suppressing follicle-stimulating and luteinizing hormones without causing the undesirable symptoms associated with low testosterone.
An injectable DMAU is also currently in clinical trials.
Research suggests that DMAU is effective and well-tolerated with the exception of a few side effects similar to those often reported by people who use female hormonal contraceptives, like acne, headaches, and weight gain.
Contraline’s ADAM System hydrogel implant
Contraline’s ADAM System is a nonhormonal male contraceptive hydrogel implant. It won the Best Innovation award at the 2022 Women’s Health Innovation Series: Reproductive Health Innovation Summit in Boston.
ADAM is injected into the vas deferens to block the flow of sperm. The sperm that are blocked naturally degrade and are then reabsorbed by the body. The hydrogel liquefies at the end of the product’s lifespan so sperm can flow freely again.
Until a new option gets approval and hits the market, it’s slim pickings for cisgender men who want to take the reins on birth control. Currently, condoms and vasectomy are the only effective birth control options available.
Condoms are a type of barrier protection that’s worn over the penis. They’re 98 percent effective with perfect use, dropping to 82 percent with typical use. The upside is that barriers, like condoms, are the only method that protects against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The only way to make condoms as effective a contraceptive as possible is to use them correctly every single time. That means rolling them onto your erect penis before it touches a partner’s vagina.
Some other tips that can help increase condom’s birth control powers:
- Get the right size of condom, because using one that’s too small ups the chance of ripping it, while using one that’s too big can result in it slipping off.
- Check the expiration date and avoid using condoms that are past their prime.
- Use your fingers to open the packet, because anything else, like your teeth or scissors, could damage the condom.
- Pinch the tip when you roll it on, leaving the reservoir tip free to collect your load. That extra can also help prevent tearing.
- Use lube, not just because it feels good, but also because it reduces friction and can help prevent the dreaded condom break.
- When you’re done, pull your peen out of your partner while you’re still erect, holding the condom with one hand to prevent slippage.
Vasectomy is a permanent birth control method that involves cutting or blocking the vas deferens to prevent sperm from being released in your semen. It’s
Theoretically, vasectomies are reversible, but reversal doesn’t always work. This means that it’s probably not the right choice unless you’re 100 percent sure you don’t — won’t — want to reproduce down the road.
Vasectomy can be done in two different ways:
- Surgical vasectomy. This method involves making two small incisions in the scrotum to access the vas deferens tubes. A small portion of the tube is removed and then either tied together or blocked with some tissue. The incisions are then either closed with stitches or left to heal on their own.
- No-scalpel vasectomy. Instead of using a scalpel to make an incision, a single, tiny puncture is made in the skin of the scrotum to reach the vas deferens to cut or tie it. The skin puncture heals on its own without leaving a scar.
Things to keep in mind:
- You can expect some mild pain, swelling, and bruising for a few days after a vasectomy.
- It takes around 3 months for your semen to be sperm-free after vasectomy.
- After 3 months, you’ll need a follow-up appointment with a healthcare professional to test your semen.
- You’ll need to use another method of birth control until your semen is declared sperm-free.
- Like with any medical procedure, there’s some risk of infection, so call your healthcare professional if you develop signs of infection, like fever, severe or worsening pain, or pus from your incision.
The male birth control injection isn’t yet available to the public, but it could be in the next few years, along with other methods that are already in clinical trials.
Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a Canada-based freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.