For men the options for birth control have been limited to one of three options: condoms, vasectomy or abstinence. But now researchers say they are close to perfecting a reversible option. And that option is….
While the thought of a gel-based contraceptive may not seem the most airtight birth control, according to the Indian scientists working to develop it, the gel can last for anywhere from 10 to 15 years. The gel, which has been dubbed RISUG (Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance), reduces the number of sperm that make the trip and then disables the ones that do make it through.
According to Scientific American magazine:
Developed and currently undergoing clinical trials in India, RISUG involves a small incision in the scrotum and injection of a polymer gel into the vas deferens, the same tubes severed in vasectomy. (Vasectomy is reversible in some cases with expensive microsurgery to reconnect the vas deferens. Complications such as anti-sperm antibodies that form when sperm leaks into the body during vasectomy, however, make reversal more than a problem of plumbing.) The porous polymer does not block the flow of sperm but purportedly renders sperm inert by disrupting the chemistry of their cell membranes.
RISUG is starting to get recognition here in the United States and testing could begin this year. While many have doubts about the effectiveness of the gel method, according to WIRED magazine, each step, lead scientist Sujoy Guha “has prevailed because, in study after study, RISUG has been proven to work 100 percent of the time.”
After testing RISUG on over 250 volunteers, Dr. Guha reported little or no side effects other than slight scrotal swelling in some men immediately after the injection, which dissipates after a few weeks.
While the pros of the gel are undeniable, I can’t say I blame the skeptics. A treatment that lasts for up to 15 years and has no irreversible effects? I don’t know- it seems almost to good to be true.