After years of placing the burden of responsibility on women, there will finally be an option for male birth control called Vasalgel. Vasalgel is an injectable form of birth control for men that blocks and filters out sperm. It’s meant to provide men with an alternative to getting a vasectomy, and for women, an alternative to weighing the pros and cons of the Pill or IUD.
“Women have multiple options (each with its own drawbacks), but right now there’s nothing out there both reversible and highly reliable for men,” Elaine Lissner, founder and executive director of Parsemus Foundation, tells Bustle.
Condoms are important in new relationships, Lissner points out. And while they're still important for long-term couples, condom usage becomes inconsistent and are just unpopular.
"Clearly, we need an effective, long-acting, reversible option for men," Lissner says. "Many men are excited about Vasalgel because it could be that option, without the the hormonal side effects women put up with."
But of course, with any new product out there the could change your sex life, there are going to be some questions. For instance, what is it? How does it work? How effective is it? What are the side effects? The best way to know if something is right for you is to be informed. If you and your partner are interested in this new form of male birth control, here are five things he should know:
1. It Doesn’t Stop Ejaculation
Using Vasalgel won’t kill your sex drive or your ability to come. According to the Parsemus Foundation, Vasalgel doesn’t have any effect on orgasms or ejaculation. Seminal fluids will still be released, minus the sperm.
2. It Works By Blocking And Filtering Out Sperm
Vasalgel doesn’t claim to “destroy sperm as they pass by.” In comparison, RISUG, another injectable form of male contraception, works by chemically breaking down key components of the sperm that would make it functionally infertile. Instead, Vasalgel works by purely blocking and filtering.
“Vasalgel takes a different approach, stopping sperm in the tube they swim through, rather than hitting the whole body with hormones,” Lissner says.
3. It’s Expected To Be Just As Effective As A Vasectomy
Based off a recently released year-long pre-clinical rabbit study which saw no sperm after implantation, researchers were led to believe that Vasalgel will be just as effective as a vasectomy. Further studies also found effectiveness in baboons for over a year. However, as of now, they don’t know how many years the effect will last.
4. It Has Less Side Effects Than A Vasectomy
Some common side effects of getting a vasectomy include swelling, bruising, the formation of a small lump due to leaking sperm (sperm granuloma), and pressure buildup. According to the Parsemus Foundation, since Vasalgel works by blocking only sperm and not fluid, that will likely reduce the risk of pressure.
As for sperm granulomas, that occurs when sperm leaks around the tissue of the cut vas deferens. Since nothing is being severed with Vasalgel, that’s nothing to worry about.
5. It May Be Reversible
That’s the hope, at least. According to the recent rabbit study, “rapid restoration of sperm flow” was evident once Vasalgel was removed. This happens by flushing it out from the vas deferens with an injection of sodium bicarbonate solution. But as the Parsemus Foundation explains, they are still conducting pre-clinical studies to test reversibility in larger animals. Until those studies are done, Vasalgel can be seen as an alternative to getting a vasectomy for men.
Keep in mind, since sperm count does go down with age, the Parsemus Foundation advises men to freeze their sperm as a backup option if they want to ensure children in the future.
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Images: Andrew Zaeh/Bustle; The Parsemus Foundation; Giphy(5)