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Vasectomies May Become Less Invasive, More Easily Reversible

The Parsemus Foundation has developed Vasalgel, an injectable nonhormonal gel polymer that effectively stops sperm from passing through the male vas deferens on a long-term basis.

"Sorry, sperm. Not in my house." Photo by Norma Gonzalez

Here’s another one for all you chomping at the bit for more riveting advances in the field of male contraceptive options: Vasalgel, a gel polymer that’s injected into the male vas deferens, creating a roadblock for sperm traveling through the channel—effectively a vasectomy, minus the slice n’ dice. Fluids can still pass through the barrier, but your swimmers will be stuck at the gate. The team behind Vasalgel at Parsemus Foundation, which focuses on innovative and neglected medical research, is touting it as a less invasive, more easily reversible vasectomy, as they offer a separate injection to dissolve the polymer barrier, thus allowing a man’s sperm to carry on as before.

The director of Parsemus, Elaine Lissner, points to successful animal trials conducted on baboons and rabbits that they saw bode well for future human testing that will hopefully begin early next year. In comparison with contraceptives for women, Lissner says Vasalgel’s female equivalent would be the IUD device, telling Yahoo Health that, “So far, it’s even a little better.”

Ideally, if all goes well with the 2015 clinical trials, the Parsemus team is keeping their fingers crossed that Vasalgel could be on the market within three years. They realize that projected timeline seems pretty fast, but they remain optimistic moving toward their goal as around 20,000 men and women have signed up to hear more about clinical trials. Lissner says this is indicative of larger societal change in more men being interested in contraceptive options beyond condoms and potentially painful surgical methods.

Yet, Vasalgel as a replacement for the standard vasectomy isn’t without its critics. Male fertility expert and vasectomy reversal specialist Dr. Jamin Brahmbhatt is wary of people jumping on board without evidence that the polymer gel won’t cause permanent damage in the long run. “My fear is that scarring from the injection of a gel barrier might prevent a reversal. Since there’s no long-term data on this, there’s no guarantee about the effectiveness of a reversal,” he told Yahoo Health.

And so, we wait for conclusive evidence, though wholeheartedly encouraged by both the progress made and increasing thought being given to expanding the male contraceptive market.

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