Technology

A Male Contraceptive Just Cleared A Major Medical Barrier

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Will there ever be a male contraceptive? Right now, the burden of contraception is placed largely on women and involves either hormones, which offer their own medical risks, or inserting a small plastic object in your groin. Any man who thinks the latter is somehow preferable should be presented with a swizzle stick and told to try it for himself.

Male options mostly involve either not doing it (impractical), pulling out just before orgasm (doesn’t work), or condoms, which generally work but are far from perfect. So, scientists are hard at work to create a male contraceptive and one, Vasalgel, has just cleared an important medical trial.

Vasalgel is basically a tiny colander injected into the testicles. Placed in the vas deferens, it forms a gel that lets fluids through, but prevents sperm from coming along for the ride. It basically serves as a temporary vasectomy without all the potential issues, and eventually dissolves after about a year in the body. The major clinical trial wasn’t on humans, but on rhesus monkeys. Having a tiny screen in their crotch didn’t impact the monkey’s desire to mate, but it did prevent pregnancy among the breeding females they were unleashed upon, which is really the whole point of the exercise.

Of course, Vasalgel’s big downside is that it may prevent pregnancy, but won’t stop the spread of STDs, so Vasalgel is mostly only a contraceptive solution if a man trusts every woman he sleeps with. But now that it works in monkeys, we can see if it also holds up with humans, and possibly finally shift the burden of preventing pregnancy onto both sets of shoulders.

(Via New Atlas)

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