Birth Control: Its time to think differently

Birth Control. The first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word is an advertisement featuring a woman and a pill. For years, the birth control industry has been dominated by woman contraceptives—pills, patches, IUD’s—we got them all.

Men often take a back seat when it comes to contraceptives. In fact, when it comes to male birth control, the options are quite limited. They are either quite short-term (condoms) or permanent (vasectomy).  There is no in between. Exactly why is there such a shortage of male birth control options you ask?

Well, it could be because pregnancy is often a situation associated with women’s health and men are not personally affected by it (at least not a larger degree). It could also be because it is much more profitable for companies to sell pills to women than to men.

It is a fact that most men are quite hesitant to speak up about their sexual health. There is a stigma around male birth control that makes them quite hesitant to even buy condoms from a chemist! The lack of sex education combined with such social stigma has been quite detrimental to the sexual health of the Indian men.

While in the past too, there had been several studies regarding birth control, none of them had been very successful or publicised.

One such research stated that if men bathed in hot water for 45 minutes daily for 3 weeks straight, he would be protected for 6 months! And while it’s true that heat does kill the sperm, the scalding hot temperatures were beyond what men could endure.

Another research put the light on tighty whities (yup!). However for it to be effective you had to wear it for an awfully long time which was….well, uncomfortable to say the least.

BUT now it’s 2017 and more men are seeing the light of the day. They are demanding male contraceptives and what the consumer wants, the consumer gets. Scientists are now on the lookout of a condom-free male contraceptive and they are getting closer to it by the day.

 

One such contraceptive is “Vasagel.” The researchers from California National Primate Research tested vasagel on 16 monkeys. The monkeys were injected with the gel and monitored over the 5-month course of the breeding season. At the end of the season, none of the females that the 16 monkeys had gotten in contact with had gotten pregnant! Vasagel is a polymer-based gel injected into the vas deferens.

The sperm gets absorbed back into the body and there are fewer side effects and complications than a vasectomy. Due to the permanent nature of a vasectomy, most men were hesitant to go for it. Scientists are hoping that the reversibility of Vasagel will make it more appealing to men.

Parsemus Foundation, responsible for the development of the gel, is soon to begin human clinical trials on Vasagel.

Another birth control milestone that we are soon to achieve is the male birth control pill. It works exactly like the female pill by inhibiting production of hormones and reducing the sperm count. However, there were some side effects associated with it like depression and acne which made them reluctant to take it further.

With the dawn if condom free male contraceptives, the stigma around birth control and sexual health be significantly lowered. Not only will it lower the unwanted pregnancies, the emergence of male contraceptives will also make female contraceptives cheaper and more readily available.

One thing we must remember is that vasagel and pills are a thing of the future. Right now, the need of the hour is a good sex education system and to educate men on the importance of using condoms.

After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

 

 

 

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