The male contraceptive gel has been trialed on monkeys, and it was 100 percent successful as an alternative to the reversible vasectomy!
The product is called, Vasalgel™. It has been trialed on rabbits. Now on rhesus monkeys. Both times the trials proved successful. Researchers aim to have this product in the market as an alternative option to vasectomy for human males. You can find the study in the journal Basic and Clinical Andrology.
What Is Vasalgel™?
Vasalgel™ is a non-hormonal, non-toxic gel. The product is injected into the vas deferens, which are the tubes that transport sperm from the testicles to the penis. Then the gel fills the internal cavities of the tubes and works as a barrier to the sperm. Tests on rabbits showed that the procedure could also be reversed via an injection.
Since it is reversible, Vasalgel™ could be the best alternative to vasectomy. The lead author Catherine VandeVoort, from the California National Primate Research Centre, said that “Although it is possible to reverse a vasectomy, it is a technically challenging procedure, and patients often have very low rates of fertility following reversal.”
The trials with rhesus monkeys consisted of 16 monkeys who undertook the surgery. 10 of them already had offsprings. The monkeys were then monitored to ensure a healthy recovery before going back to their housing groups, which included adult fertile females. The researchers observed the group for a breeding season, which lasts around six months. The authors said that no pregnancies happened during the trial period. The expected reproduction rate for sexually mature females in similar normal conditions is about 80 percent.
At the moment two different options exist as far as male contraceptives go. Condoms and vasectomies. But there are now many different approaches undergoing trials, such as an implant that can turn sperm off like a switch and an injection that slows sperms’ mobility with a 96 percent effectiveness.
Sadly, there is not much funding or a sense of urgency in developing male contraceptives because the of severe side effects like acne, depression, and hormone imbalances are considered too high. However, all these side effects are the same in modern female hormone-based contraception available today. Doctors prescribe these same female hormone-based contraception.
Vasalgel™ does not affect sperm production or hormone levels, so side effects should not be an issue. And unlike vasectomies, where the tubes are cut and tied, making it harder (though not impossible) to reverse, the gel should be easily reversible via an injection of sodium bicarbonate, though this has only been tested in rabbits, not monkeys.
The Parsemus Foundation is a non-profit organization which funded the work, and they have plans to start human trials as soon as funding is secured.