I am freaking out right now you guys.
Because, okay, wait? You mean since 1979 there has been a way to simply, cheaply and impermanently sterilize men with zero hormonal side effects? But it’s not available because of 1) misogyny and 2) big pharma can’t make money off of a simple process that cost $100 every ten years? Did you just tell me that, Internet?
Indeed, Internet did totally just tell me this. The drug is called Vasagel or RISUG.
The 30-year struggle (AHHHH) to bring Vasagel to market was first chronicled in this fascinating and detailed Wired piece (Warning: includes informative yet balls-tastic video.) that ran this time last year. And this week, there has been a growing buzz about Vasalgel after an article in TechCitement went viral because animal testing on the drug started in America in March. Yay. Currently, it’s in the last phase of clinical trials in India, where the drug was first invented, meaning it may be on the market (at least there) in two years.
It works like this. A doctor makes simple injection of Vasalgel into a man’s Vas Deferens. (Those are the little tubes that carry sperm from the testes to the penis, and also what are severed in a vasectomy.) The gel then coats the inside of the Vas Deferens, rendering all the sperm that pass through it infertile. The gel stays put for about ten years, unless a man wants a baby, and then it is flushed out with another simple injection of baking soda and water. Sperm is then fully viable again after two or three months.
The procedure lasts less than an hour, and the man leaves the doctor with a mere band-aid on his scrotum. He will feel a slight discomfort, swelling or soreness for the next day or so and that’s it. No hormonal side effects, nothing, and it’s 100% effective. According to Wired, “among the hundreds of men who have been successfully injected with the compound so far in clinical trials, there has not been a single failure or serious adverse reaction.”
Compare that to what women experience on the pill, from mood swings, to weight gain, to decreased sexual appetite, to amenorrhea… And of course, the pill’s efficacy is dependent on taking it everyday at exactly the same time, as well as picking it up and paying for it every month. Not to mention the glaring fact that the burden of contraception rests entirely in the hands of women, still. It takes two people to make a baby, people!
Think Vasagel sounds amazing?
Here’s the clinical trial/mailing list sign-up from the Parsemus Foundation (the non-profit sponsoring Vasagel’s American trial).
And the short will-not-spam-you petition to get the procedure funded and keep buzz going.
Also, another good piece on Vasagel in The Hairpin. Highlight: Some of the US funding from the drug comes from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who instead of funding clinical trials to get it approved in the US, funded trials to try to make the drug work in women. Again, AHHHH. AHHHH.