New male contraceptive tested
A new form of contraceptive which in effect provides a temporary 'vasectomy' is being trialed in The USA.
The Intra Vas Device or IVD is a tiny silicone plug that is inserted in the vas deferens, the tube along which sperm travel prior to ejaculation. The down side is that this plug needs to be inserted though a small hole surgically made in the scrotum.
A pilot study involving 30 men showed the IVD was effective. Studies in monkeys also showed it was reversible. This could be an improvement on the traditional vasectomy — in which the vas deferns is 'snipped'. The traditional vasectomy is designed the be permanent (although it can be reveresed) and many men have experienced side-effects from traditional vasectomy such as pain and sex problems.
Elaine Lissner, from the non-profit US organisation Male Contraceptive Information Project in San Francisco, told the BBC: 'It is a lot easier to pull the plugs out than to find the best, most expensive micro-surgeon to sew a vas deferens back together.
'But we know that in vasectomy, even if you can get sperm flowing again, the chances of pregnancy go down by about 10% for each year the man had the vasectomy. Only time will tell if it's the same for IVD.'
Of the many contraceptives available, only two rely on the man - condoms and vasectomy.
Ms Lissner said that today more men want to take responsibility and control of contraception.
In a recent survey on malehealth 74% of those who reponded said they would be prepared to take a male pill. A recent study of over 9,000 men in nine countries on four continents showed more than 60% of men in Spain, Germany, Mexico and Brazil would do the same thing.
However, pills which affect the hormones such as the proposed male pill affect the whole body and may have side effects. This has certainly been the case for the female pill. Moreover, some men don't fancy messing with their hormones as they're worried about messing with their masculinity too.
The IVD could side-step these problems. The main concern about the IVD is that the build up of pressure behind it could damage sperm-production or be painful — a variation on a problem that has been identified in traditional vasectomy too
Apparently, researchers in China are working on a vas deferens plug that intentionally allows small amounts of sperm through - not enough to cause a pregnancy but enough to ease the pain of pressure build-up. Maybe.
Of course, what the IVD would not get round is the issue of male trustworthiness. In the malehealth survey, 16% of men (or nearly 1 in 6) said they would be prepared to lie to about being on the pill to persuade a woman to have sex. How many men would be tempted to say: 'don't worry I've got the plug in'?
Page created on October 9th, 2006
Page updated on January 16th, 2010