Image credits: Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition on Unsplash
News Article

Male Contraceptive to Bring More Birth Control Options

By Miriam Bello | Tue, 07/13/2021 - 18:09

From natural methods to emergency options, contraceptives tend to target the female body. Now, Revolution Contraceptives is developing Vasalgel, a long-acting, non-hormonal, reversible male contraceptive, which would be the first on the market.

Most of the discussion on birth control centers on the female body. While there are numerous options available ranging from devices to medications, there are still about 74 million unintended pregnancies annually around the world, says the WHO. In 56 percent of those unintended pregnancies, women reported not using a contraceptive method in the five years prior to conceiving, 9.9 percent indicated that the last method that they had used was a natural/traditional method (withdrawal or calendar-based), 31.2 percent used a short-acting modern method (pills or condoms) and 2.6 percent used a long-acting reversible contraception (intrauterine devices or implants). These unplanned pregnancies have led to 25 million unsafe abortions and 47,000 maternal deaths every year. In Mexico, unplanned pregnancies could increase by 20 percent due to the pandemic, warns the Population General Council (CONAPO), representing 120,000 more unintended pregnancies.

Most birth control methods have common side effects. The pill, for example, causes spotting, nausea, breast tenderness, weight gain, mood changes, missed periods, vaginal discharge, eye sight changes and headaches. According to the Office on Women’s Health, there is evidence to suggest that taking birth control pills may raise a person’s risk of blood clots and high blood pressure or hypertension, which can lead to heart attack or stroke. If a blood clot enters the lungs, it can cause serious damage or death. While serious, these side effects are rare. Recent research suggests that birth control increases the risk of some forms of cancer and decreases the risk of others.

A 2015 UN report found that over half of married women used a pill for birth control while only eight percent relied on their husband to use a condom. A survey by Male Contraception found there is a potential market of 17 million men who have would use a birth control that fits their lifestyle and relationship if available.

Vasalgel, a male contraceptive being developed by the Revolution Contraceptives, could help to equalize the contraceptive market. Vasalgel is made of a polymer material that blocks the flow of sperm at each vas deferens (the duct that transports sperm). Revolution Contraceptives explains the procedure is similar to a no-scalpel vasectomy, except the vas deferens is not cut, as would be the case in a vasectomy. Vasagel can be removed by flushing each vas deferens when future fertility is desired. Revolution Contraceptives expects Vasalgel to be long-acting but it does not know yet how long the effect will last, which will be determined through clinical testing. Early preclinical studies demonstrated rapid restoration of sperm flow after the gel was dissolved and flushed from the vas deferens. The male contraceptive injection was found to have minimal side effects like acne, increased sexual desire and mild mood swings.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst