In “The Best Birth Control In The World Is For Men,” Jon Clinkenbeard calls RISUG the perfect birth contraceptive. RISUG stands for “reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance.” Two common chemicals are injected into the vas deferens, where they combine to create a polymer that coats the insides of the vas. When seminal fluid passes through the vas, sperm are “torn apart” by something called “the polyelectrolytic effect.” Because the treatment does not block the vas altogether, there is no danger of seminal fluid backing up as it can sometimes do following a vasectomy. The procedure is effective for ten years, but can be easily reversed with another injection.
In a second article on TechCitement by the same author, Clinkenbeard confirms that RISUG holds hopes for reducing HIV transmission. In addition, there is a nonhormonal male contraceptive pill being developed that is expected to prevent all semen-transmitted STIs. “Could This Male Contraceptive Pill Make A Vas Deferens In the Fight Against HIV?” Pardoning the pun, because the name for the pill is even funnier, the “clean sheets pill” in development at Kings College in London works by affecting muscle contraction around the vas deferens, preventing semen from being discharged during male orgasm. Because there is no semen, there’s no transmission from male to female of any STI.
These and other forms of male birth control you have never heard of are described in detail on the Male Contraception Information Project website. One of the methods described uses only wet heat, applied daily for three weeks, to convey reliable, reversible sterility.
Clinkenbeard and others cite the financial woes that prevent male contraception from being brought to market. Organizations like the Gates Foundation and USAID have had their funding slashed, and pharmaceutical companies have not stepped up to fill the gap. With methods like the wet heat method, there is no financial advantage to pharmaceutical companies funding FDA trials when there is no product to sell. For other methods of male contraception you haven’t heard of yet, like ultrasound, trials have not yet established human dosage required for effectiveness.
Because the field of male birth control is so underserved, there is a lot more that men can do than we think. There are methods that have been well documented in other countries that you can safely try, yourself. While ultrasound has the potential to cause permanent sterility and so shouldn’t be experimented with, the availability of inexpensive sperm test kits and a thermometer will allow you to start using the wet heat method right away. If your ideal solution comes in a convenient to take pill, you can help make that dream a reality: the Parsemus Foundation is currently accepting donations toward research on the “clean sheets” pill.
—Photo shino 誌野/Flickr