While there are a number of different types of contraceptives, for men the vasectomy is the most effective method to prevent pregnancy. However, with a procedure that can have any number of complications, there are always risks associated with having a vasectomy. This has led to researchers at the California National Primate Research Centre to use a contraceptive gel called Vasalgel on monkeys to find a viable alternative to the medical procedure.
According to research findings published in Basic and Clinical Andrology, male rhesus monkeys which were injected with the gel called Vasalgel, showed that this product was reliable in the long-term. In fact, it has the potential to be a vasectomy alternative that is also reversible, in case the man changes their mind about having a child at some point in the future.
The contraceptive gel is apparently injected into the vas deferens, the duct in the penis that sperm travels through to get from the testicles to the urethra. When it is injected, the gel actually fills the vas deferens internal cavity, which forms a barrier to prevent the movement of the sperm.
Based on two separate studies, first with rabbits in 2016 and now with monkeys, the contraceptive gel could potentially be an alternative to having a vasectomy, as it was shown to be effective in preventing conception in both cases. The lead author of the study, Dr. Catherine VandeVoort, shared that the placement of the Vasalgel in the vas deferens was able to produce a reliable form of contraception in the 16 rhesus monkeys used in the study. On top of showing its reliability, they were also able to show that the method used to place the contraceptive gel was safe and also produced less complications than those that can be found after a vasectomy.
While vasectomies are reversible, it is still a complicated procedure. With the Vasalgel, there are some signs that reversing the effects are less complicated and would be less invasive than with a vasectomy. Moving forward, researchers are hoping to look at just how they can reverse the effects of the contraceptive gel’s placement in the rhesus monkeys so they will know if it can be successfully reversed in human males. If the researchers are able to determine that Vasalgel is not only effective, but also reversible, it could end up being the perfect alternative for a person who does not want to go through a vasectomy, but still wants a way to prevent pregnancy.
By Dorothea James
Photo Courtesy California National Primate Research Centre