When it comes to birth control, guys have been getting a pass for a while. About 73 percent of men rely on their female partners to use contraception.
And when couples are ready to call it quits on baby-making for good, tubal ligation is the most popular form of sterilization, performed three times more often than vasectomies.
But can you blame men? They only have two options for male birth control: condoms or a vasectomy. Condoms have a high dissatisfaction rate, and vasectomies, well, that whole cutting the scrotum open thing isn’t that appealing.
While the nonsurgical vasectomy is less invasive than a traditional vasectomy, it still has the risk of side effects, such as chronic pain.
But there is good news. A new male contraceptive is in the works.
A company called Contraline is developing a new procedure that is both long-lasting for those who are done with having kids, and easily reversible, for those who want children in the future.
The procedure is called Vasintomy, and it implants a polymer gel into the vas deferens—the tubes that carry guys’ sperm—and blocks sperm while allowing fluids to travel through. The gel is designed to last for years.
So how is this better than a vasectomy? Well, the company says the Vasintomy is non-invasive and non-surgical. The gel, Echo-V, is inserted through the skin into the vas deferens via ultrasound. It then forms a hydrogel device to block sperm—sort of like a male IUD. Contraline says the gel doesn’t affect hormones.
The procedure is expected to take less than five minutes and is reversible by the gel being dissolved and flushed out by a reversal solution, which is also non-surgical.
The innovative birth control for men was invented by Dr. John Herr, who’s career in reproductive biology left a legacy of discovery and invention for men and couples. Up until his recent death Dr. Herr lead the University of Virginia’s Center for Research in Contraceptive and Reproductive Health.
Dr. Herr co-founded Contraline with Kevin Eisenfrats. He also discovered a unique sperm protein called SP-10, which led to the first FDA-approved home male fertility test—SpermCheck. The product allows men to check their fertility status at home instead of having to supply a sample at a doctor’s office.
He also is the inventor of 64 issued patents and several other pending patents. Before his death, Dr. Herr made breakthroughs in contraceptive vaccines for women and was working on possible new paths of treatment for cancers.
“Spending time with him both professionally, as well as on a personal front, has made me realize that he is one of the best scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs I have ever met,” Eusebio Pires, a colleague at the University of Virginia, told UVA Today.
With the potential of Vasintomy, and the convenience of SpermCheck, Dr. Herr’s work has made life much easier for men when it comes to birth control. Though Contraline’s procedure is still being developed, the future of male birth control looks promising and less painful, thanks to Dr. Herr.