Vaselgel works in a similar way to the vasectomy, by blocking sperm from flowing through the tubes. The main difference is that it takes three months to start working and can be easily reversed. Human testing begins for Vasalgel in 2016 but so far, the injection has worked well on baboons and rabbits, and if those trends continue, we could have a male birth control option as soon as 2017.
The question is, will men actually use it? The Daily Telegraph posed this question to Donna Dawson. She’s a psychologist specializing in behavior and thinks that the odds are not so good for women finally being able to share responsibility for contraception.
“I don’t think men will opt for it,” she says firmly. “They’ll either say it’s the women’s job, or they’ll be too squeamish. They’re not used to taking that amount of responsibility for birth control. They don’t have the pain threshold women have. Women are more conditioned and acclimatized to taking birth control. Men have had no experience of it. Most men won’t even have the snip, making most women have their tubes tied instead.”
So what do men think? A quick ask around the office brings back mixed results. Some say, “No thanks – it’s just too sensitive down there.” One kind fellow says he’s keen to relieve his partner of the dangers of the pill and another says he’d do it, but would probably use condoms anyway so, “What’s the point?”
Ultimately it comes down to having a choice. Once the options start opening up for men, there’s no doubt that women in committed partnerships, especially women who are currently on birth control, will be well within their rights to ask for a break.
Emeritus Professor John Guillebaud, one of the experts currently working on the male pill, says he’s an advocate for sharing the responsibility. “As a choice, it’s been very unfair on women really. In stable couples, where they share their bodies together, why shouldn’t they also share any problems, or risks involved, by six months of the man taking contraception, then six months of the woman?”
This same half yearly formula may not be applicable for Vaselgel, but as 2017 approaches, relief is in sight for the millions of women who suffer silently through the various side effects of birth control because they’ve simply had no other choice.
(Photo courtesy of Tony Alter)