A lot of research is being invested in developing new methods of birth control for men. As you may recall from a previous post, birth control options for men are limited to vasectomies, condoms, spermicides, and natural methods like withdrawal right now.
Here’s a preview of methods in the works:
Pills & Skin Gels
- Pill. The pill targets muscles in the vas deferens (plumbing in the body that carry sperm from the testicles out through the penis head) to prevent ejaculation from happening. Don’t worry, this drug does not affect the sensation of an orgasm. The pill would be taken 2 to 3 hours before intercourse and could last up to 24 hours. This pill has an added benefit of preventing HIV transmission since the HIV virus is found in semen and there would be no ejaculation. That is why the pill is aptly named Clean Sheets Pill.
Where does the ejaculate go? It is reabsorbed by the body! So there’s no build up. Currently, researchers of this pill are campaigning for funds to allow them to continue studying this method before it can be submitted for FDA approval. You can read more, pitch in or sign a petition to support funding here.
- Hormonal Gels. These gels combine two hormones — testosterone and progestin — to suppress sperm development. The advantage of this method is that it is easy to apply as it is just rubbed onto the skin once daily.
Injections & Implants
- Gel Injections. Two different gels – known as RISUG (Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance) and Vasalgel – are being developed in India and the United States. Both of these gels are injected into the vas deferens (the same tubes that are cleaved during a vasectomy) and they work like a plug, blocking the passage of sperm. These non-hormonal forms of birth control require only a single treatment and in addition, would be reversible. The developers of Vasalgel just announced an update this month about success in animal models and now human trials are planned to begin next year, with the hope that the drug would be available for consumers by 2017. You can help by pitching in to the crowdfunding efforts of this social venture. You can follow the updates by liking the Vasalgel Facebook page.
- Hormonal Injections. Clinical trials found men who were injected with the hormones norethisterone and testosterone every 8 weeks had no sperm in their ejaculate. Additional studies are now planned worldwide involving couples.
- Implants. The implants contain testosterone and would be placed under the skin of your upper arm. The testosterone would help inhibit the development of sperm and reduce sperm count. Right now, studies are being developed to determine whether these implants work.
Don’t hold your breath on these products. All these potential methods have several more years of research and clinical trials to determine whether they are safe and effective methods.
What do you think about these methods? Men, would you use them? Women, what are your thoughts on your partners using one of these methods of birth control?
About the Author: Kevin Vu is a third-year pharmacy student at the University of California San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences.
References: Nieschlag E. Clinical trials in male hormonal contraception. Contraception 2010;82:457-70. Meriggiola MC et al. Norethisterone enanthate plus testosterone undecanoate for male contraception. Contraception 2005;90:2005-14. (Photo credit: Craig Anderson via Flickr)