Researchers have announced that the first human trials of a male contraceptive will start early next year. It doesn't affect sexual function, hormones, and is in the form of a long-lasting injection. Jeannette Francis, the person in the office who stands the most to gain, reports.
Airdate: 
Thursday, September 11, 2014 - 19:30
Channel: 
SBS Two

The development of a male contraceptive has been a subject of both medical and feminist debate for decades. This week, a male contraceptive is slated to enter human trials for the first time.

The product is called Vasagel, and rather than a pill it is a 'polymer hydrogel' that is injected to block the vans deferens - the tube that sperm passes through on the way to the penis. Orgasm is unaffected, and ejaculate would still be produced, but it would contain no sperm. Effectively, it will function in the same way as a vasectomy, but would be less painful and not require inpatient surgery. The contraceptive would also be reversible, requiring another injection to flush the gel out.

The Parsemus Foundation, its developer, is a not-for-profit organisation which aims to develop low-cost medical solutions. They hope that the new contraceptive will be affordable, adding that ideally it would cost 'less than a flat screen TV'.

The injection is currently being trialed on babboons. Three males have been injected, and then left living with ten to fifteen female baboons. After six months, none of the females had been impregnanted.

This has the opportunity to change the dialogue around sexual responsibility, as contraception has until now been previously targeted towards women.

If the human trials go well, the product could be on the market as early at 2017.  

The Feed has previously covered contraception. View earlier stories below.