The burden of birth control on women may soon be a little less heavy, thanks to an injectable form of male birth control, called Vasalgel, could be on the market as early as 2018.
Vasalgel is a gel that is injected into the vas deferens to block sperm, while allowing semen to pass. It is reversible, nonhormonal and expected to be as effective as a vasectomy with less side effects.
Most birth control options for women, such as the pill, the patch, the implant and the IUD, are hormonal and have long-lasting side effects. As of now, condoms are the most popular birth control, but aren’t as effective in preventing pregnancy as other options. Condoms, when used effectively, have a 98 percent pregnancy prevention rate. However, they can be used ineffectively or expire — annully, condoms have an 18 percent pregnancy rate.
Clinic director of The Center for Health & Prevention Kayla Wilburn said approximately 21 percent of the organization’s patients are male, and this type of contraception will hopefully raise that number.
“I think that more and more we are seeing males participate in pregnancy prevention,” Wilburn said. “Hopefully it will spark more interest in family planning for males.”
The Center would be able to cover this type of injectable male birth control if it were available under Medi-Cal or Family PACT, since The Center does not take private insurance, Wilburn said.
“We would hope that California would be progressive enough that if a man was interested in this contraception, they would help cover it,” Wilburn said.
Vasalgel has been in the works by the Parsemus Foundation since 2010 and was previously tested on rabbits. The first clinical trials on humans were done this year. A study published this year showed that after 29 days, rabbits had no sperm in their semen and the contraceptive remained in effect for the 12-month study.
There are many birth control options available to students: free condoms at PULSE, the Cross Cultural Centers, Planned Parenthood and The Center; pills, the patch and the ring at the Health Center; and IUDs and implants (as well as pills, the patch, and the ring) at the Center and Planned Parenthood.
All of these options, except condoms, place the sole responsibility in the hands of the women. Vasalgel puts the responsibility on men.
So, how do Cal Poly students feel about Vasalgel?