In India right now, RISUG— the reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance– is undergoing Phase III clinical trials.
If it ends up working out, RISUG would make a truly amazing contraceptive. It’s a “set it and forget it”contraceptive, like Depo or an IUD: the procedure takes fifteen minutes, is effective after three days, and lasts about ten years. The chemicals cost less than the syringe used to administer them. It’s way more easily reversible than a vasectomy: one more injection of baking soda and water, and in two to three months you have your healthy sperm again.
How does it work? (Description of medical stuff in this paragraph– the squeamish might want to skip it.) The doctor applies some local anesthetic, makes a small pinhole in the base of the scrotum, pulls out the vas deferens, injects the polymer gel (called Vasalgel in the US) and puts a Band-Aid over the hole. Repeat it with the other one and you’ve got ten years of contraception. The chemicals form a polymer that thickens over the next three days: with polymer lining each side of the vas deferens, the sperm flow between them and, because of the flow of negative/positive polarization, are torn apart by the polyelectrolytic effect.
Unfortunately, a series of delays, none of which reflect the usefulness of the contraceptive, have left it stymied in development for a whole. Even being in Phase III means it could be years, if the contraceptive ends up being effective, before it’s publicly available.
Nevertheless, an effective contraceptive for those with penises would be revolutionary. A whole slew of issues would suddenly be… not. Right now, cis men are left with abstinence, condoms, and vasectomies as the only contraceptive options 100% under their control. While condoms are good (they prevent against STIs! Use one every time!), many couples are fluid-bonded or want a backup contraceptive, but do want to still be able to have children at some point in the future. With an effective contraceptive for cis men, they’ll be able to put their reproductive health under their own control.
Or consider child support! It’s unfair to keep people with uteruses from having control over those selfsame uteruses, so ultimately whether to take hormonal contraception or have an abortion lies with them. It’s unfair to children to not receive the financial support they need. And it’s unfair to people with penises to have to support kids they didn’t want, although since it is the least unfair option it is the option we kind of have to go with. But if RISUG ends up becoming an actual drug we can just tell the people with penises that they should use RISUG if they don’t want kids.
In addition, it offers a lot more freedom for cis women. Many people with vaginas can’t take hormonal contraception: it affects their libidos or moods, it interacts with a medication they use, they’re a smoker, etc. For these people, RISUG could offer them more freedom and less risk of a condom failure.