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?

Male BC 1
“I would not immediately use it because it will be new and that’s kind of scary, and you won’t know the long-term side effects. Eventually, if there were no long-term side effects, I would possibly do it. I don’t like needles though, which makes me less inclined.” — Collin Scholl, biological sciences junior.
Male BC 4
“I like the incentive of the fact that it’s not the female’s responsibility. But if both partners aren’t communicating, it could cause problems. It can be positive if it’s communicated and taken seriously.” — Hannah Burgardt, psychology junior.
Male BC 2
“I would be willing to do it if my girlfriend didn’t want to go on birth control. Even if my partner was on birth control and wanted me to do it, I would.” — Jack Boudreau, history junior.
Male BC 3
“I think it’s a great idea. I do think there’s going to be apprehensiveness to it because so much focus has always been put on women to use birth control. It’s a change in thinking about safe sex.” — Miriam Flock, animal science junior.
Max Gomez
“I would do it. Honestly, it seems like such a quick procedure. It seems pretty scary, but it’s quick and lasts for years. It is easily reversible also. Women get IUDs and implants. Considering those procedures, this is smaller than those so there’s no reason for me not to do it.” — Max Gomez, biochemistry junior.

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