A male contraceptive gel was found to be 100% effective in preventing pregnancy in a recent primate study.
The Guardian reports that the product, called Vasalgel, is designed to be a reversible and less invasive form of vasectomy. Scientists say to think of it as the equivalent of an IUD for women. The gel is injected into the vas deferens (aka the sperm superhighway) and dissolves the swimmers so they can be absorbed naturally by the body, creating a long-lasting barrier against conception. And it can all be reversed by flushing the material out with a simple sodium bicarbonate solution.
The nonprofit group that funded the work, the Parsemus Foundation, is set to start human trials as soon as funding is secured.
“Men’s options for contraception have not changed much in decades. There’s vasectomy, which is poorly reversible, and condoms,” Catherine VandeVoort, of the California National Primate Research Center and the study’s lead author, told The Guardian. “If they knew they could get a reliable contraceptive that could also be reversed I think it would be appealing to them.”
Vasalgel is a particularly appealing form of male birth control, because unlike other methods (like the side-effect riddled shot), the procedure does not interfere with sperm production or hormone levels. Sperm continues to be produced in the testes, but rather than being ejaculated, it dissolves and is naturally absorbed by the body.
“They wouldn’t have to worry about it on a day-to-day basis,” VandeVoort said. “This would be more akin to an IUD in women.”