A promising new study on the effectiveness of Vasalgel — a reversible birth control injection for men — was an overwhelming success. Vasalgel is now slated to be available to all men in 2018, according to Elaine Lissner, executive director of the Parsemus Foundation, the organization that developed the drug.
Vasalgel is a gel that's injected into the penis and, once in there, blocks sperm from leaving the vas deferens (like a vasectomy, but temporary and without the painful surgery). In the study, released today, 12 male rabbits were injected with Vasalgel. Of those 12 test rabbits, 11 were found to be "azoospermic," or completely without sperm in their semen for an entire year after the injection.
Even though it's a small study done on animals, the researchers are optimistic about what it means for human dudes. That length of effectiveness, they say, could be even longer in human men, which is good news for guys who feel squeamish about getting injections in their penis on a frequent, regular basis. "We expect [that time frame] to be similar in men, but that is just a minimum," Lissner told Cosmopolitan.com. "It seems to be pretty durable; we expect it to last for years. We just don't know how many yet."
Aside from being hormone-free, part of what makes Vasalgel so appealing as a male birth control option is that it's reversible. In the rabbits, scientists flushed the gel (via a second injection) from seven of the rabbits, and "semen samples showed a rapid return of sperm flow" afterward. Lissner said a publication that discusses those results in more detail will be available soon.
The next step for Vasalgel is the first human male trial, which Lissner said is scheduled to launch later this year, and will likely only take about six months. A key component to human trials going forward will be training physicians to administer the injection, though Lissner said "physicians who do no-scalpel vasectomies right now will be the perfect people to do Vasalgel" because the procedures are so similar.
Vasalgel has previously run into problems with funding — developing a birth control option like this is incredibly expensive. "Funding is still an issue," Lissner said. "We are set to move forward for six months to a year, but then the numbers get really big for the clinical trials." Parsemus has plans underway to bring in more investors, and Lissner said she's confident Vasalgel will raise enough funding to make everything happen.
"There are so many men who want this so badly," she said, "the support is going to be there."
Now all we have to do is wait anxiously until 2018, when it looks like men will finally have a birth control option that's safe, long-lasting, reversible, and doesn't involve surgery. Sounds like a dream.
Source: Cosmo US