Time for a second sexual revolution?

Posted on 28 April 2012

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Posted on 27 April 2012.

Kate Townshend
WVoN co-editor

A new contraceptive that lasts for as long as ten years, is easily reversible and has almost no side effects might sound too good to be true.

But a procedure that promises all of this and more may well be on the market in India within the next two years – and it could hit the rest of the world soon after.

Side effect free contraception is an exciting development in itself, but the even bigger news? This particular contraceptive method is aimed at men.

The RISUG procedure (Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance) which is in late stage clinical trials in India, works via injection.

A harmless gel coats the walls of the ducts that carry sperm from the penis, killing the sperm as they leave the man’s body. And if he changes his mind an additional injection will simply flush the gel away, restoring his fertility.

Techcitement reports that in 15 years of trials the method has a 100 per cent success rate. It is more convenient than condoms, less serious than vasectomy and involves none of the inevitable side effects inherent in hormone based contraception.

In early 2010, a small foundation that grew out of the Male Contraception Information Project purchased rights to begin studying RISUG in the US with the aim of developing it for the rest of the world. Clinical trials began early this year.

So assuming RISUG ( or vasalgel to give it its US monniker) is as good as it sounds, what might this mean on a wider level?

A truly effective method of contraception for men could help to address any lingering sense that birth control is somehow still women’s business.

But are men really to blame for not taking their fair share of responsibility? Not according to the Family Planning Association (FPA).

It commissioned a survey in 2008 which revealed that a startling (and encouraging) 94% of men consider contraception to be of equal relevance to them.

Rebbecca Findlay, press and campaigns manager for the FPA believes that in the past the problem has been a biological one:

“Men want to take control of their sexuality in the same way that women do, but it’s been a longer journey to bring them onto an even footing. We do them a disservice when we assume they won’t want to take responsibility.”

The even better news is that all of this might well be a bit of a shot in the eye for pharmaceutical companies more focused on profit than people.

RISUG is the pet project of Indian scientist Sujoy Guha, who has spent the past 30 years fighting to establish its worth according to Wired.

Ironically the simplicity and relative cheapness that make it so revolutionary also partly explain why the bigger companies are sceptical – it doesn’t offer huge opportunities for money-making.

The bottom line is that contraception is about more than the science that makes it work.

Contraception saves lives, reduces the number of unwanted children in the world and gives families in deprived areas a chance to keep themselves out of further poverty.

It also makes people free-er. If RISUG delivers, men will soon have another option for taking responsibility for their own sexuality; and that can only be a good thing for women too.

http://www.womensviewsonnews.org/2012/04/time-for-a-second-sexual-revolution/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+WomensViewsOnNews+%28Women%27s+Views+on+News%29

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MALE CONTRACEPTION INFORMATION PROJECT

RISUG/Vasalgel

The basics
RISUG (which is an acronym for “Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance”), called Vasalgel™ in the U.S., is similar to vasectomy but with one significant advantage: it is more easily reversible. Researchers achieve this feature by injecting a polymer (a gel) into the vas deferens, rather than cutting the vas (as is done in vasectomy). The polymer then coats the inside walls of the vas deferens and kills sperm as they go by. If a man wishes to restore fertility, whether after months or years, the polymer is flushed out of the vas with another injection. This method could thus be ideal for men who think they are finished having children but would like the chance to change their minds in case of remarriage or the death of a child—and it could possibly even be appropriate for men who want child-spacing or young men who want to complete their schooling before having children.

RISUG/Vasalgel

The basics
RISUG (which is an acronym for “Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance”), called Vasalgel™ in the U.S., is similar to vasectomy but with one significant advantage: it is more easily reversible. Researchers achieve this feature by injecting a polymer (a gel) into the vas deferens, rather than cutting the vas (as is done in vasectomy). The polymer then coats the inside walls of the vas deferens and kills sperm as they go by. If a man wishes to restore fertility, whether after months or years, the polymer is flushed out of the vas with another injection. This method could thus be ideal for men who think they are finished having children but would like the chance to change their minds in case of remarriage or the death of a child—and it could possibly even be appropriate for men who want child-spacing or young men who want to complete their schooling before having children.
RISUG is a clear gel.

Practical details
RISUG is in advanced clinical trials in India; some of the men have been using it for more than 15 years. Right now, only local men near the study sites in India are eligible for the trials, though there could be a limited market release in 2012/2013 for Indian men. But there’s good news for men outside India: RISUG may be on its way to the rest of the world! In early 2010, a small foundation that grew out of the Male Contraception Information Project purchased rights to begin studying RISUG in the U.S. and developing it for the rest of the world. The goal is to have it on the market as an alternative to vasectomy as early as 2015, with clinical trials beginning in 2012. Its new name is Vasalgel™. The foundation is moving fast on getting the first steps done, but won’t have enough money to finish the project; if you want to show larger funders that there’s demand and that they should partner on finishing the job, add your voice to MCIP’s short, no-spam petition to funders.

Background & history

After being produced in the testes and stored in the epididymis, sperm pass through a tube called the vas deferens on their way to the penis. The vas deferens is the same tube that is cut in a vasectomy. Many men throughout the world — more than half of the men in their forties in New Zealand, for example — get a vasectomy when they are finished having children (Sneyd 2001). However, vasectomy is generally permanent. Therefore, researchers have long sought a reversible alternative to vasectomy….

http://www.newmalecontraception.org/risug.htm

Posted in: contraception, male, RISUG