Male contraception gel passed monkey trials with 100% of success. The trial managed to block male monkey reproduction for more than a year with the gel that acts as an alternative to the reversible vasectomy. As the male control birth options are very limited with no long-term and reliable methods, this is a big and important step to its solutions.
At this moment men have two options for contraception: the use of a condom to catch the sperm or to have a vasectomy – sterilizing operation wich cut the two tubes that carry sperm to the penis from where they are made in the testicles. Condoms are not 100% reliable ( failure rate of around 15% ) and it is short term solution, while a vasectomy is a permanent option and just some of men manage to successfully reverse the operation.
The lack of options in male birth control spurred the creators of gel called Vasalgel. It is a non-toxic and non-hormonal gel that is injected into the vas deferens – the tubes that carry sperm from the testes to the penis. The gel fills the internal cavities of the tubes and acts as a barrier to the sperm. It has the same effect as vasectomy but should be easier to reverse if a man later decides he wants to have children. Theoretically, the second injection should dissolve the gel plug.
So far, Vasalgel is tested on rabbits and monkeys. Trial with rabbits has shown that the product is reversible. In the latest trial, it’s tested the group of 16 adult male monkeys. After receiving the treatment, monkeys were housed in their normal group. They have in the group up to nine females and during the breeding season, none of them got pregnant. Also, there was no evidence of any gel side effects.
These two trials are small and aren’t enough to be tested on humans yet, as researchers usually struggle to replicate animal results in human trials. On the other side, the founder of the gel Parsemus Foundation hopes that Vasalgel could be on the market as early as 2018. Probably this prediction is too ambitious as there are still unknown facts that should be studied. For example, how long Vasalgel will last? The monkey trail showing results for one-year and they didn’t receive another injection to see if it works in the reverse.
Still, the safest birth control is female methods such as contraceptive pills, although they come with their own side effects. The animal trials with Vasalgel are an important step, but we have to wait for human clinical tests to see if the rate of success and safety are good enough to be approved for commercial use.