Plug or Snip? A New Potential Option for Male Birth Control

Would you rather go for a plug, or a cut? Currently, there are limited options for male birth control. As oppose to women who have various methods to choose from, men only have a few choices such as the use of condoms and vasectomy.

Vasectomy is a permanent birth control method since it is irreversible. A man undergoes surgery wherein the vas deferens is being snipped or tied. Since the procedure is permanent, a man who undergoes vasectomy can never have children again in his lifetime.

With this, there is no option to reverse the procedure when he changes his mind. But the good thing is it is 100% effective. Using condoms, on the other hand, has an effectiveness rate of 98%, but that is only if a condom is used every time a man would have sex.

Only recently, a new method of male birth control has just passed animal testing. It utilizes a gel to block the sperm flow to prevent pregnancy. Vasalgel is a polymer gel that is plugged in the vas deferens or the tube where sperm flows in the male reproductive organ.

Based on an extensive research and experiment, the gel does not break down and sticks to where it is injected. It is also said to let seminal fluid through but blocks the sperm cells. The sperm cells that are being blocked by the gel are going to be absorbed by the body.

The injection of the gel to the vas deferens is administered under anesthetics. The effect is similar to vasectomy but without snipping or cutting. Another difference is that Vasalgel can be disintegrated upon the injection of another solution. The gel plug will then break and get flushed out of the body.

Vasalgel was tested to sixteen male Rhesus macaque monkeys, and the results were remarkable. Ten of these subjects were already fathers. Based on the experiment, all subjects were injected with the non-hormonal gel to prove its ability for birth control. The subjects were housed with female monkeys for one mating season which is approximately six months. Mating did occur, but none of the females got pregnant.

Moreover, the reversibility of the gel plug procedure has been successfully tested among rabbit subjects. However, tests on baboons did not produce favorable results. However, it is already a breakthrough in the research and development of male birth control since it produced positive results in preventing pregnancy. But further studies are required to come up with a procedure that would be as effective as vasectomy with the option of reversibility.

Researchers are now working on the next step on further testing of the reversibility of the Vasalgel plug procedure. Moreover, researchers are also looking at the possibility of testing the procedure to human males as an alternative for vasectomy.

With the success of preventing pregnancy among primates through the Vasalgel plug, a new potential option for male birth control has been opened. However, further researches and experiments are to be done to establish the reversibility of the procedure. After all, the successful test results on animals do not always translate to the procedure’s success for human use, do they?

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