A study by The Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University conducted research on condom use among 5,865 people between the ages of 14-94. One of the findings revealed that among the last 10 sexual encounters of adult males, only 21.5 percent of them used condoms. In a survey done by the National Survey of Family growth, the leading reasons women discontinued condom use was because their partner did not like it or it decreased the woman’s sexual pleasure. Unsurprisingly, the lack of contraception use increases the rate of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies.
While women have a number of effective birth control options such as the Pill, IUDs, shots, patches, or spermicides to name a few, men don’t have as many contraceptive options. The options widely available for men are condoms, the withdrawal method, and vasectomy. Although these methods can be combined and used simultaneously for greater protection, the fact remains that men simply don’t have many reversible or effective contraceptive options when compared to women. This perpetuates the notion that it is the woman’s sole responsibility to prevent pregnancies and disadvantages men from taking control of their sexual health. Several new and promising birth control methods catered to men are being developed – and one such method that we’ll talk about here provides a sperm barrier straight at the source. Colloquially referred to as “The Switch,” the medical name for this new birth control method is called Vasalgel, and it may be available as soon as 2018.
How does it work?
Vasalgel works in two steps:
- Vasalgel is injected into a space of the vas deferens.
- Vasalgel then fills the interior portion and forms a soft, semipermeable gel barrier that nestles into the tiny folds of the walls of the vas deferens.
This procedure creates a wall within the vas deferens, which prevents the sperm from moving through the tube, thus leaving the sperm with nowhere to go, they are reabsorbed by the body. Vasalgel is different from a vasectomy. Urologist Jamin Brahmbhatt stated the following during an interview, “…In a vasectomy we clip that segment [vas deferens]. With Vasalgel, what they will do is take a human made substance and inject it into that tube [vas deferens]. It basically serves as a filter, so it won’t let sperm through… It’s just a shot and theoretically [reversible].”
How do other birth control options for men compare?
Besides the effectiveness of the new procedure, one question that has been raised is how many men would actually consider using this method. A survey conducted by The Parsemus Foundation, an organization that assists with funding a variety of studies, concluded that at least half of the men surveyed stated they would be willing to use a new form of male birth control. Although the only test conducted for Vasagel has been conducted on animals, human trials are scheduled to start in 2016.
Valerie Tarico of Rewire, a non-profit publication that focuses on reproductive health, puts it plainly: “Men want better choices, and women want better choices for men, and parents want better choices for their sons.” Continued research and development of contraceptives contribute to the wellbeing of society in general, and with this focus on male contraceptives, provide men the tools they need to participate in family planning to help level the responsibilities of preventing or delaying pregnancy.
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Alisha Bridges has battled with severe psoriasis for over 20 years and is the face behind Being Me in My Own Skin, a blog which highlights her life with psoriasis. Her goals are to create empathy and compassion for those who are least understood, through transparency of self, patient advocacy, and healthcare. She is currently a post-bach student at Georgia State University pursuing a career as a Physician’s Assistance—her passions are dermatology and sexual health. Alisha also shares her passion as a Social Ambassador of the Psoriasis HealthCentral Facebook page where she shares timely tips, stories and insights on living with psoriasis. You can also find Alisha on Twitter.
Alisha Bridges is a freelance health writer on the topics of sexual health, skin care, and psoriasis. She has lived and thrived with psoriasis for over two decades. Alisha is the creator of www.Beingmeinmyownskin.com, a site dedicated to sharing what it’s like to live with psoriasis. She is also a student at Georgia State University pursuing a career as a physician assistant with a concentration in dermatology. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @alishambridges.