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Monday, June 6, 2011

Contraceptives for the macho

It has always been the female population who are subjected to temporary and permanent fertility control—contraceptive pills, intra-uterine devices, tubal ligation and the like.
For their male counterparts, we only know barriers like condoms and the permanent method—vasectomy.
Here are two new and promising reversible modes of birth control for men. They are not yet available in the market and it may take years before they will be fully developed and approved for commercial use.
Invented more than three decades ago in India, Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance (RISUG) is a gel that contains compounds that blocks and kills sperm cells when injected into the vas deferens of the testis—a tube where the sperm passes through and is the site that is ligated during vasectomy, according to Digital Journal.
The 15-minute injection of Vasagel (trade name in the US) offers ten year efficacy. Another injection will remove the gel to restore fertility.
Still on clinical trial in India, the gel could be available in the US in 2015 if approved according to schedule.
Of course, not a single modality on earth is totally risk-free.
Kidney problems and swelling has been reported following the use of RISUG, The Hindu said.
* * *
Vitamin A is important in sperm production and this is exactly where the target of the next birth control method is all about.
US researchers found that a chemical that blocks the body's ability to utilize vitamin A made the male laboratory mice unable to produce sperms without affecting their desire for sex, according to Live Science.
Once the compound was withheld, sperm production returned to normal levels.
Because vitamin A is important for other bodily functions such as vision and ability to fight diseases, scientists are looking for other pathways in which drugs that act against the vitamin specifically in the testis without affecting other organs.
At this time, this method is still in the lab animals stage. When fully developed, a whole new meaning of machismo will be born.

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