An injectable birth control method has shown promising results in rabbits. The contraceptive completely prevents the sperm from being released during sexual encounter and it lasts for up to one year.
Though the new approach was successfully administered to 12 lab animals, it could take years before it becomes commercially available. But trials have shown that Vasalgel, a semi-permeable gel barrier, completely blocks sperm in the tubes that allows it to get out from the testes.
The new method has several advantages to other male birth control methods such as the vasectomy and condom. It is completely reversible, the man needs another shot to return to normal, it makes condoms unnecessary, and they do not hinder orgasm and ejaculation.
Though the sperm is blocked, researchers said that it gets absorbed by the body. In the meantime other seminal fluids including fluids produced by prostate, seminal vesicles, and urethral glands, which make up the rest of semen, can still be released.
Still, scientists need to conduct more research to make sure that there aren’t any severe side-effects. The research team unveiled the polymer injection on Tuesday.
In vasectomies, surgeons severe the tubes that transport sperm from testes, which is not the case with Vasagel, which just blocks the sperm flow through those tubes. Scientists said that they have an antidote to Vasagel: a second shot that dissolves the gel barrier.
The team said that the first trials on humans should start later this year. A representative for Parsemus Foundation, the group that developed the new method, said that researchers needed to test whether the contraceptive lasts a year as it did in rabbits.
The same researchers are also working on a similar birth control method called the “clean sheets pill.” The oral contraceptive blocks completely seminal fluids from leaving the man’s body by contracting the tubes that carry it. The male pill was so far tested only on animals, so it could take several years before it hits the shelves.
Dr. Jamin Brahmbhatt of South Lake Hospital in Florida believes that it make take years before such male contraceptive is ready to be used. Brahmbhatt added that such birth control methods could be very helpful in curbing population growth in the developing world such as parts of China, India, and Africa.
But the success of such contraceptives lies with men and investors, and researchers aren’t sure how alluring the male contraceptives may be to the U.S. population.
Image Source: Flickr