Hey, lovebirds: Who needs condoms?

male contraception

Karlesha Hewitt

By Karlesha V. Hewitt

What becomes of a world
safe enough for people in love
to make love without worrying?

A brief article on Jezebel.com is calling it the “male birth control nobody’s talking about.” Unfortunately, this seems to be a vicious reality.

Many people haven’t even heard of the male contraceptive RISUG, which stands for Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance. RISUG, brand-named Vasagel, is slated for testing in the U.S. later this year, according to the journal Health, which describes it as a spermicidal polymer gel injected into the tube that sperm travel through. Chemicals in the gel make the sperm immobile, and thus unable to fertilize an egg. RISUG offers an alternative to the well-known vasectomy.

The sperm-killing gel can be flushed away by another injection to restore fertility. In fact, newmaleconctracption.org says the reversal procedure can be performed whenever a man wants, whether after days or years. According to the Health article, the RISUG procedure is effective just 15 minutes after completion and lasts a decade.

Sound crazy? I can imagine your surprise. I felt overwhelmed with “what-ifs” when my roommate first spoke of this unfamiliar method of contraception.

I guess it is important to know that the Male Contraception Information Project says RISUG has undergone decades of study, as well as development and testing on animals and humans in India since the first clinical trials in 2002.

An older post on newmalecontraception.org claimed that the goal for RISUG was to have it on the market as Vasagel in the U.S. as early as 2015, with clinical trials beginning in 2012.

In 2010, The Parsemus Foundation (with a mission of “finding low-cost solutions neglected by the pharmaceutical industry”) bought the rights to test and develop RISUG in the United States. Now Parsemus needs more funding to continue regulation-mandated preclinical studies of RISUG, and MCIP is campaigning for more widespread awareness and support of the project.

So what are you thinking? Do people really give a damn about male contraception? What good can RISUG do for the world? Jezebel.com offers some insight, stating that RISUG could help poor couples limit their families and thus increase their chances of escaping poverty. In the developed countries, it would help relieve women of the risks of long-term use of birth control pills and give men a more reliable, less annoying option than condoms.

About half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. The likely results of RISUG seem all good: fewer unwanted kids, fewer single parents, and fewer abortions.

Newmalecontraception.org says the method could be ideal for men who think they are finished having children but would like the chance to change their minds in case of remarriage or the death of a child – and it might even be appropriate for men who want to space their children, or young men who want to complete their education before having children.

The biggest question I have is, would males actually use RISUG? Are we ready for this male contraceptive? I am undecided.

Still, it’s nice to know that I will live to see this new male contraceptive method come into fruition. If you are in a hurry to see RISUG on the market, show larger funders that there’s demand and that they should partner with Parsemus to get the job done. You can do this by adding your voice to MCIP’s short, no-spam petition to funders; just Google the site.

If you don’t see yourself going through the trouble, it is a wonderful thing to be informed either way.

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Categories: Opinion

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5 replies

  1. Hell, I’m trying to find out where the trials are going to be so I can sign up. This is basically the male equivalent to an IUD. The literature available online shows this is effective, safe, and well researched as-is. There’s no reason this shouldn’t be widely available in the US at this point. The actual holdup is political as the procedure’s inventor discussed in this article:

    http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/04/ff_vasectomy/all/

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  2. Seems like a great idea considering most men would not like knives or sharp objects near their genetalia during a vasectomy. What about STD’s? Men now will start replacing condoms with an injection and we could possibly have an epidemic of sexual illnesses hit the streets.

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  3. I love this piece Karlesha, I am certian you have opened some people’s eyes. I know when we discussed it, you opened my eyes. I still say not because this is available or being offered to men, means they will be protected from all the diseases out there. It will be interesting to see how this is marketed in the U.S. Time will tell where and how well it will be received in the states.

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  4. wow i havent heard of RISUG till reading this! nonetheless im right there with you – undecided. its interesting though, keep us in the loop ms hewitt 🙂

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  5. I’be heard you speak to me about this male contraceptive before and we both had the same question still after. Would these men actually make the decision to get the RISUG procedure done and would they really think it makes up for condoms? Just because they have the procedure done doesn’t mean it will protect them from other diseases. I’m pretty sure some will have that question also. Some may soon believe that it actually does take the place of condoms because they’ll emphasize the fact that they are clean so there’s no reason at all to use protection. I’m still undecided with this but there’s no harm in trying. Let’s see where this goes and what the statistics show in a few years.

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