A long-term, reversible male contraception option may finally be on the horizon.
Vasalgel is a gel that’s injected into the vas deferens—a tube that runs from your testes to your urethra—to block your sperm.
It’s similar to a no-scalpel vasectomy, a procedure in which the doctor cuts the vas deferens. But with Vasalgel, a second injection easily reverses the effects by flushing out the gel. It’s basically a removable filter, rather than a snip—and it could be on the market in as little as three years, according to researchers.
“This could finally give men control over their own reproduction,” says Elaine Lissner, director of the Parsemus Foundation, the nonprofit developing Vasalgel.
Right now, rubbers and abstinence are the only non-permanent ways a guy can take charge of birth control. And while condoms are essential to prevent the spread of STDs, plenty of men in committed relationships would like another option, Lissner says.
Here’s how it works: In a 15-minute procedure, your doctor will administer a local anesthetic, and then poke a tiny hole in the skin on your scrotum. He’ll pull out the vas deferens through the hole and inject about one-tenth of a milliliter of the gel into the tube. He’ll tuck the vas back in, glue up the hole, and send you on your way. Other than some tenderness, Lissner says, you’ll be good to go.
The gel is porous like swiss cheese, she says. While fluid can flow through the holes, sperm can’t fit. The sperm gets blocked and eventually absorbed by your body. That’s the same thing that happens to your swimmers when you get a vasectomy or don’t ejaculate, says Lissner.
Vasalgel was found to be effective—and reversible—in rabbit studies, and is currently being tested on baboons, Lissner says. Human trials are slated to begin next year, with hopes that Vasalgel will be on the market by 2017.