Male birth control could prove better option

Jack Newell, Staff Writer

This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the Views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

A new breakthrough in contraception could be with us as early as 2018. The Parsemus Foundation recently began testing for its new male contraceptive, Vasalgel. Currently in the animal testing phase, the new contraceptive could afford men access to what is essentially a temporary and reversible vasectomy. Its development and eventual release are likely to lead to several benefits including reducing the difficulty of gaining access to proper contraception and problems associated with unwanted pregnancies. These benefits are particularly important for low-income and impoverished communities around the world.

Vasalgel is a gel that is injected via needle into the Vas Deferens, forming a spongy, semi-permeable layer that blocks sperm from entering the urethra. According to its developers, the Parsemus Foundation, the effects are easily reversed by means of a baking soda injection. The goal of the foundation is to make the treatment as inexpensive as possible. Their stated goal is for its cost to be “a day or two’s average wage in wealthy countries” in order to ensure wide availability to those who are in the greatest need.

The primary effect of Vasalgel will be to completely revolutionize the way men are able to use birth control. As we all know, there are currently only two methods for men: vasectomies and condoms. The former is widely unpopular, due to the fact that it’s intended to be permanent. Men do not want to give up their ability to reproduce simply because they may not want to do so at a certain time.

Condoms are more complicated. There are essentially no barriers to condom access in developed countries and their availability is moderate in most undeveloped countries. The barrier to their actual use is the fact that many men do not want to use them.

Unplanned and unwanted pregnancies are rampant. Vasalgel promises to be an option that many more men will be likely to adopt.

The expectation that more individuals will be using birth control results in an expectation that unwanted pregnancies and associated poverty implications can be reduced. In 2006, the Center for Disease Control reported that 49 percent of pregnancies were unintended. This number is staggering and highlights the dire need for greater access and choice in contraception.

Disproportionately affected by unwanted pregnancies were women with low income and education. Unwanted pregnancies can often lead to worse health outcomes for the children and reduced ability of the parent or parents to rear the child. Vasalgel, with its expected release in two years, is likely to change sex, pregnancy and the world as we know it.

Jack is a senior at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at [email protected]