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A New Male Contraception Shows A Promising Start

When we think of contraceptions, the things that come to our minds are  pills, IUDs or even hormonal implants. These contraceptions, however, are designed only for females. Males lack options in contraception with condoms and vasectomy being the only ones.

In February 2017, Basic and Clinical Andrology journal announced that scientists have been working on a new male contraceptive called the Vasagel, a long-acting and non-hormonal gel. The sticky polymer gel gets injected into the Vas Deferens Tube (sperm carrying tube) which blocks sperm from swimming up mixing with the semen; preventing sperm from fertilizing the female egg.

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In a vasectomy, the Vas Deferens tube gets snipped and the two ends are cauterized. However, the Vasagel is a reversible procedure. Scientists can (theoretically) break down the gel with another injection of sodium bicarbonate solution, and flush it out of the body.

Before making it commercially available for humans, scientists have been testing its safety and effectiveness in rabbits and rats (known to mate a lot). Another study at the California National Primate Research Center injected Vasagel into 16 adult male rhesus monkeys because their male reproductive tract is very similar to humans. After injection of the vasagel into their tubes, they lived a fairly normal life. Even though some males were living with female monkeys for a couple of years, none of them fertilized a female.

Like any other experiments, there were some side effects too. In one monkey, the gel wasnt injected properly. The scientists had to give the monkey a partial vasectomy to flush out the gel. In another monkey, scientists saw sperm granulation: a lump of sperm outside the Vas Deferens that can be painful. 

Even with a 100% sucess rate, Vasagel still needs a ton of work to be done before it becomes a widespread birth control option.

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