For a long time, men has only two serious choices for preventing baby-making: either condoms or ‘the snip’.
But this option grows as new promising product and could be set to change all that, with animal trials indicating that it’s not only close to 100 percent effective, but that it can also be fully reversed, making it less drastic than the vasectomy while still offering similar benefits.
The product named and trademarked under Vasalgel, the contraceptive is a polymer gel being developed by the non-profit Parsemus Foundation in California. It aims to “find low cost solutions that have been neglected by the pharmaceutical industry”.
Early report said that Vasagel showed itself to be effective in preventing rhesus monkeys from getting pregnant for up to 24 months.
Furthermore, the gel serves as a barricade to sperm when injected into the thin tube that channels sperm from each testes to the ejaculatory ducts – a tube also known as the vas deferens.
Adding to the features of the newest product, sperm produced in the testes usually travel up the vas deferens to meet with other glands that add various substances to make up semen; when blocked by the gel, they are either embedded in the material or are simply reabsorbed by the body.
What is the major catch here?The Vasagel impressively works a lot. In fact, earlier trials conducted on a dozen rabbits last year reporting no signs of any sperm cells a month after the procedure, nor in the following 12 months.
Importantly, while there were some slight changes to the cells lining the vasa deferentia in the rabbits, they weren’t considered to be all that serious and didn’t seem to be worsening with time.
In the following trial, 16 adult male rhesus monkeys housed with up to nine fertile females failed to produce any offspring after a breeding season, with another seven continuing for another year without any pregnancies.
Experts knew that rhesus monkeys and rabbits aren’t exactly human, their biology is similar enough for all of this to make for promising news.
The contraceptive has its origins in a similar gel plug called reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance, or RISUG for short, which although has had a head start by a few years in India is struggling to make it through human trials for want of volunteers.
Parsemus Foundation is hoping to have their first human volunteers test the contraception next year; given it’s now been demonstrated to be fully reversible, perhaps they’ll have better luck with men signing up.
As of now, they already injected two variants of Vaslagel into seven male rabbits and waited 14 months before hitting the gel plugs with a solution of sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda.
The solution neutralized and dissolved the gel’s structure, allowing sperm to once again swim freely down the vas deferens in search of ova to fertilize.
According to Donald Waller, lead researcher, the current study shows a great indication that quick return of sperm is possible.
“The results of the Vasalgel reversibility study in rabbits indicate the implant could be removed resulting in a quick return of sperm flow,” Waller said.
The full research was published in Basic and Clinical Andrology.