New Form of Male Contraception Shown to be Effective in Monkeys

New Form of Male Contraception Shown to be Effective in Monkeys

In 2011, trials of a male contraceptive injection were halted when the participants reported negative side effects, including acne and mood swings [1]. Following this study, forms of male contraception have remained far and few between, limited almost entirely to condoms and vasectomy. Now, researchers behind a new form of male contraceptive called Vasagel hope that their product will be able to widen the options available to men. Functioning similarly to a vasectomy, Vasagel is a long-acting contraceptive that works by injecting the gel into a male’s vas deferens, blocking the passage of sperm. [2] In a trial performed by researchers at the University of California, Vasagel was injected into 16 male monkeys who were then housed with fertile female monkeys for one to two breeding seasons. [3] The trial resulted in no pregnancies, and limited side effects for the males, although one monkey experienced complications due to a misplaced injection. [3] This is a promising start to the long process required for a product to make it to the market. The two biggest hurdles for Vasagel will be funding, and proving that the gel’s contraceptive effect is reversible. Without proving reversibility, the product has little hope of becoming available to the public or gaining the necessary funding, because it would provide no advantage over the traditional vasectomy. The monkey study did not prove (or attempt to prove) Vasagel’s reversibility, meaning that this will be a major focus of research if the study goes on to be tried on human subjects.

References:

1. Watkins, Adam. “Why the male ‘pill’ is still so hard to swallow.” Independent, 6 Nov. 2016, http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/why-the-male-     pill-is-still-so-hard-to-swallow-a7400846.html

2. Senthilingam, Meera. “Male contraceptives gel effective in monkeys, but will it work in humans?” CNN, 7 Feb. 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/07/health/male-birth-control-vasalgel-contraceptive-monkey-trial-trnd/

3. Roberts, Michelle. “Male contraceptive gel passes monkey test.” BBC, 7 Feb. 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/health-38879224

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