Long-Term Male Contraception May Be Just Around the Corner

You may be aware that Vasalgel™ is a non-pharmaceutical agent, recently developed, as a method of long-term male contraception. This gel works by forming a non-toxic hydrogel when injected into the vas deferens. This is the duct that transports sperm from the testicles and into the urethra; the gel fills this internal cavity to form, essentially, a barrier against the movement of sperm. Scientists are now advocating that this method is on its way to providing a viable alternative to a vasectomy.

According to lead study author, Dr Catherine VandeVoort”Our research shows that Vasalgel™ placement into the vas deferens produces reliable contraception in mature male rhesus monkeys as shown by the lack of pregnancies in reproductively viable females with which the males were housed. Importantly, we show that the method of Vasalgel™ placement is safe and produced fewer complications than usually occur with a vasectomy.”
The scientist from California National Primate Research Center goes on to say, “Vasalgel™ shows real promise as an alternative to vasectomy because research in rabbits has previously shown the product to be reversible. Although it is possible to reverse a vasectomy, it is a technically challenging procedure and patients often have very low rates of fertility following reversal.”

She also notes, “One of the great things about the monkey model is that the male reproductive tract is very similar to humans and they have even more sperm than humans do. Chances are, it’s going to be effective in humans.”
But VandeVoort also reminds that it is important to show how this method of Vasalgel placement is safe and results in fewer complications that are normally attributed to a traditional vasectomy.

Now, this study involved only 16 rhesus monkeys but they have found that Vasalgel (and this method of use) was well tolerated. Of course, there were still some issues and complications but these are under investigation.
The study researchers note, for example, “Complications during Vasalgel placement in one animal (Animal 3) were associated with damage to the wall of the vas deferens, likely as a result of incorrect placement of the catheter, resulting in incomplete penetration of the wall of the vas deferens.”

Of course, the long-acting reversible contraception option has long been a desirable development in the reproductive world. In the past, obviously, men who wanted more autonomy over their reproductive habits only had permanent options (vasectomy) or condoms. This method, then, would allow men more control and take pressure off of women to consistently take their birth control pills or have to use hormonal implants, IUDs, or other forms of birth control.