Looking for the perfect birth control method can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. It has to be effective, convenient, affordable and preferably without side effects. Many women find that there are too many unpleasant side effects such as weight gain and mood swings with hormonal birth control options like the pill or NuvaRing, and many couples don’t want to use condoms in the long-term. Some women experience irregular or heavy bleeding and cramps with an IUD or find them cost-prohibitive. Short of more permanent options like tubal ligation or a vasectomy, there aren’t a lot of other methods available today.
Until now. A frequent complaint among birth control users is that the responsibility and possible side effects are burdens that lie with females only. Thanks to Vasalgel, a new male contraceptive gel, those days may be over. So far, Vasalgel has only been tested on animals, but it has proven 100% effective in monkey trials. The monkeys did not show any evidence of complications or ill effects. So how does this revolutionary birth control work? Non-toxic and non-hormonal, Vasalgel is injected into the vas deferens, the tubes that carry sperm from the testes to the penis. The procedure is similar to a no-scalpel vasectomy. The gel then acts like a barrier for sperm.
Vasalgel has a few advantages over the other male contraceptive options, condoms and vasectomies. Unlike condoms, you don’t have to think about Vasalgel each time you have intercourse, and it doesn’t affect sensation. And unlike vasectomies, previous studies in rabbits have shown that Vasalgel is reversible by dissolving the gel using ultrasound, according to IFL Science. Additional studies are needed to prove that it is completely reversible, however. Since Vasalgel does not contain hormones, there is no risk for hormonal side effects like depression and acne that are possibilities with other male contraceptives that have been tested.
So where can one get Vasalgel? Not so fast. According to Parsemus Foundation, the funder of the studies behind Vasalgel, it won’t even be ready for clinical trials in humans until 2018. When it does hit the market, though, Vasalgel’s developer hopes to make it as affordable as possible, and they are working to get it covered by insurance. Like birth control pills and IUDs, Vasalgel will not protect against HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases, so condoms will still be necessary if you want to protect against STDs.