Birth control available for men in future

By Julian Scharman

Men need no longer fret about their sexual partners’ adherence to the strict regimen of the birth control pill. Researchers in the field of prophylactic technology are beginning to make progress with new forms of male contraceptives.

Three new methods at the forefront of male contraception are the Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance (RISUG), male hormonal contraceptive and the Intra Vas Device (IVD). These new developments will be less expensive, easier, and more effective; they are giving males options, and new ways to promote sexual responsibility.

“It would pretty much be a godsend for guys because we don’t have to worry about our female partners taking their pill or not,” said Nick Marneris, junior in LAS. “We can just do it with no worries because, with the pill or shot, we would also have control.”

RISUG is the method closest to being adopted, researched and produced within the U.S. said Elaine Lissner, director of the Male Contraceptive Information Project in San Francisco, Calif. Both developed and put through clinical trials in India, RISUG, administered via a shot, works essentially to disrupt the sperm’s enzymes necessary to attach to the egg, rendering the sperm infertile.

RISUG has an efficacy period of roughly ten years and is expected to be available on the U.S. market within five years. The shots may be available at a local urologist for $10-20 for every administration. In primate studies, the effects of RISUG have been proven to be reversible. However, it is not entirely clear whether this will apply to humans.

The second form of contraceptive, expected to be available in the U.S. relatively soon, is the hormonal method, or the male equivalent of the birth control pill. Lissner said such a method, which would be administered via shot, modifies hormones and therefore can bare more traumatic or more pronounced side effects. The hormonal form works to severely reduce the production of sperm, by seizing the secretion of a man’s reproductive hormones in the brain and testes.

The third male contraceptive, which may be considered the most invasive, is the Intra Vas Device. The device requires that a man have a set of tiny silicone implants inserted that block the flow of sperm.

According to malecontraceptives.org, the cost of the device and insertion procedure would be about $1,000, and may be available by 2010.

The potential for wide acceptance of regular male contraception will alleviate some of the pressure on the female community to adhere to a birth control schedule.

“It would be pretty negligible on behalf of men to say that they are not competent in simply remembering to swallow a pill; both parties should be given that responsibility,” said Heather Peagler, sophomore in LAS.

In order for such methods to be introduced and available to men in the U.S., many or all of the clinical trials and research done overseas would need to be replicated here for FDA approval, Lissner said.

The price range is contingent upon whether the government or large pharmaceutical companies are conducting the research.

The price difference can be dramatic because large companies work under a profit motive, whereas government-headed research does not.

“RISUG for $10-$20 can last up to 10 years, and that’s amazing, but if the rights go to pharmaceutical companies, such methods could be several hundred dollars,” Lissner said.

Lissner said that it is important for men and women to speak with the policy makers responsible for heading and funding the research.

“Go to www.malecontraceptives.org, check it out, and make your voice heard,” Lissner said. “And if men want options outside of condoms and a vasectomy, you need let the government know … because the policy makers need to know that men want this stuff.”