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His Choice
Of the new types of male contraception being developed, one is giving men the right to choose.


Kaia Lai (www.kaialai.com)
New advances in male contraception is giving him more choices


Nope, we're not talking about the male pill. Approximately 3,500 miles away, people in India are working on something not related to tech support for your PC. In fact, they have been working on this for the last 15 years. Now, this non-computer-related solution is much closer to becoming available in the United States.

As a large clinical trial in India takes place, many men in the U.S. are awaiting results on a new gel called RISUG (Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance). If approved, this gel will give men the chance to decide when or whether they want to conceive a baby.

RISUG is a polymer that gets injected into the vas deferens—the tube that connects your sperm factory to the outside world. The polymer coats the inside walls of the vas deferens and kills sperm as they swim by. If a man wants to restore his fertility, (perhaps on his wife’s request) the polymer is flushed out of the vas deferens with another injection. What’s better is that this can be done a month or even years later.

"We used to talk about men ‘sharing the burden’ of contraception," says Elaine Lissner, director of the Male Contraception Information Project (www.malecontraceptives.org) in San Francisco. "These days, many men talk about wanting ‘control.’"

For many men like Chris Boulter, 28, it’s something he and his wife have discussed. "It would be nice to have the security of knowing that I’m in control," says Boulter. "If she forgot to take her pill, then she might wind up getting pregnant, and now would not be the best time for that to happen."

What doctors have been working on—and what is perhaps most important for a lot of men—is that this procedure is reversible. This is a huge breakthrough because up until now, contraception for men has primarily consisted of one of three things: a condom, the difficult to reverse vasectomy or the always fun in the let’s-wait-and-see-cross-your-fingers "pull-out" method.

"Men are already using the two (no, doctors don’t recognize the pull out method) contraceptives they have," says Lissner. "At least in the United States, the idea that men aren’t willing to participate is clearly out of date."

According to Lissner, the RISUG developers are ironing out the kinks in Phase II of their development and are working to arrage future collaboration with U.S. researchers. In order to gain FDA approval, Lissner says that researchers will have to begin with animal tests, so studies in North America would not start for several years. However, Lissner says that men should not be discouraged because half of the battle in drug development is that it works, and RISUG does indeed work.

Unfortunately, while awaiting approval, men will just have to rely on the other forms of contraception or rely on their wife to take hers. Until something like RISUG is approved, a man’s choice remains in the balance.


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