A New Method of Male Contraception – Part 1

by Atavacron on February 23, 2013

in Condoms,Contraceptives,Papaya Seed Extract,Sex,The Pill

Let’s talk about male contraception.  I am a cisgendered nonmonogamous guy who dates both men and women, but primarily women.  I need a contraceptive option for myself that makes sense both with partners with whom I’m fluid-bonded, as well as partners with whom I am not.  These posts draw together my research on the available options for altering sperm count and motility, both crucial factors if you don’t want to make the babies and are set on having unprotected sex with a partner whose STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) profile lines up with your own.  One also might wish to decrease sperm count and motility as a backup safety measure in conjunction with responsible condom use.

Condoms, of course, are the only way to prevent passage of most STIs, and I am a strong proponent of condom use at the faintest touch of junk to junk.  In their early sexual life, many folks are not keen to utilize condoms until the actual moment of penetration, which doesn’t help a bit with transmission of genital herpes or HPV or any of the other stuff that may be present on one’s external reproductive organs during your typical excited frottage session.  So yeah – use condoms, kids.

What I’m concerned with here is not the STI issue, it’s the getting-people-pregnant issue.  Let’s assume the average reader interested in male contraception does not want to get people pregnant, but may theoretically want to conceive at some point in the future.  Some people know from a very young age that they do not want kids (myself included), and some people have always wanted kids, but most sexually active people just want a reliable method of birth control that can be simply ceased when conception is desired.

It appears to the general public that there is only one method of male contraception available above and beyond condom use: vasectomy.  While women have a wide variety of contraceptive options, both hormonal and non-hormonal, the only option for men is analogous to what is considered the most extreme method for women, tubal ligation, or “having one’s tubes tied.”  Now, vasectomy is a fairly low-risk surgical procedure, even lower-risk than tubal ligation.  If you have health insurance, or can pay for the procedure out of pocket, it’s an extremely effective long-term solution.  Neither vasectomy nor tubal ligation is 100% effective – yes, you can still get pregnant, it’s been known to happen – but the chances are extremely slim.

The major issue I have with vasectomy – which I’ve been considering for over a decade – is that it is, for all intents and purposes, permanent.  Also that it’s a surgical procedure.  I’m not squeamish about needles or hospitals, but when it comes to my vas deferens, I’m a wee bit protective.  Even if vasectomy were reliably reversible with minor risk of complications (which it is not) I doubt I would choose this route.

There is another minor surgical procedure I would consider for myself, and that is RISUG.  Currently in clinical trials in India by its inventors, RISUG is a simple and elegant solution.  A small incision is made in the testicular sac, the vas deferens is pulled out, a liquid polymer is injected into the tube, the tube is allowed to retract into the sac, and the incision is closed.  No different than a vasectomy, except the vas deferens is not cut and cauterized.  The material bonds to the wall of the vas deferens and stays there for about ten years (or so they’re projecting), efficiently destroying the bodies of all sperm passing through it.  When you’re ready to conceive, the procedure is repeated with an injection of baking soda mixed with water, and the bonded polymer is flushed away.

The path to RISUG becoming a valid option for male contraception in the United States is long and tumultuous, and it is clear as of this writing that despite the best efforts of its stateside proponents, clinical trials are years away.  It seems that all efforts by drug manufacturers have been focused on developing pharmaceutical hormonal options.  In trials, these either do not work with enough of a success rate to be viable, or they involve hormone suppression and replacement, or they have side effects that no guy in his right mind would want to risk.

This is a good point to break off and address the fact that I’m referring to “guys,” and “male” contraception throughout the piece, and will continue to do so, as it’s my natural voice and speaks to the majority of the people this topic applies to.  But being queer, and having loads of friends in the queer and trans communities, I would be remiss if I did not mention that all of the information herein applies just as much to anyone assigned male at birth as it does to cisgendered men.  Transgendered women with cisgendered female or transgendered male partners can get their partners pregnant via bio-penis in bio-vagina sex just the same as cis men can with cis women — albeit with less likelihood if they are using heavy doses of estrogen and progesterone in their transitional processes.  There’s also significantly less use of bio-penis for vaginally insertive sex by trans women than by cis men (contrary to what the chicks-with-dicks subset of the porn industry would have you believe), so this statistically keeps the numbers down in this demographic.  My disclaimer statement above — “Use condoms, kids” — still applies, of course.  Ladies with a bio-penis and a viable sperm count: The info in this series of posts is for you.  Please speak up if there’s anything I can do to be more inclusive.

But let’s get back to the dearth of contraceptive options available to men here in the United States.  Though a number of purported “male birth control pill(s)” have been researched, none have reached FDA approval or come to market.  It seems like if this were a priority for pharmaceutical companies and legislators, we would have had a viable option decades ago.  There’s also the common knowledge that, in our patriarchal society, many men avoid taking responsibility for contraception, leaving it up to women to keep themselves from getting pregnant.  It follows that this would hinder development of contraceptive options on par with what is available to women.  This is the same crap that keeps men from putting on condoms, or allows couples to rely on the pull-out method.  Responsibility with semen lies squarely on men’s shoulders, not in women putting up physical or hormonal barriers.  If it were standard in our society that men had better contraceptive options, there would of course be more men making healthy, informed decisions about their own contraception — and maybe it wouldn’t be so hard for Planned Parenthood to stay afloat, because men would be relying on it and other clinics just as much as women do for reproductive health counseling.

With that rant out of the way, it’s time to move on to my research on a viable option in A New Method of Male Contraception – Part 2.

 

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