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Birth control for men

Come 2015, women will no longer need to bear the entire weight of an unplanned pregnancy.

Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance (RISUG), a new form of male contraception, involves a snip of the skin, so small no stitches are needed and an injection. The sperm will be sterile until it is reversed with another injection.

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“If a simple and easily reversible male sterilization procedure were made available, it would definitely be a positive contribution to the world of contraceptive science,” said Dr. Larry Bloom, CSU professor of psychology of human sexuality.

In Feb. 2013, the Center for Disease Control reported more than 99 percent of women, ages 15-44, who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method.

With 99 percent of women exploring at least one option of birth control when it comes to sex, CDC statistics imply a male contraceptive would impact every American who is sexually active.

“I think a lot of women would be kind of shocked by the procedure honestly, now that I kind of think about it. Knowing how it works, I would trust it — if it was some sort of pill a man was taking, then I wouldn’t, but since it’s more of a procedure than a pill that you take every day, I think that makes it more reliable,” said Rachel Naden, a senior journalism major.

With RISUG, the responsibility to prevent pregnancy would not rest solely on women.

Currently, there are five forms of birth control for men: condoms, outercourse, vasectomy, withdrawal and abstinence. Not all are effective.

RISUG is a procedure developed by Dr. Sujoy Guha at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) that injects a nontoxic polymer that forms a coating on the inside of the vas which transports sperm. As sperm flow past the vas, the sperm will neutralize, rendering them useless and unable to fertilize an egg.

The vas deferens is snipped in a vasectomy rendering an ability to impregnate 100 percent ineffective. With the RISUG procedure, the vas is injected with a fluid that can be washed out at a future date with another injection. Unlike a vasectomy, this procedure is reversible, whether a man needs six months of sterilization or fifteen years.

According to the 2012 United Nations contraceptive report, the use of contraceptives by people in committed relationships has increased from 72 percent to 76 percent since 1990.

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With the introduction of a male contraceptive tool that requires a one-time injection that can be reversed, the amount of people reporting use of contraception could drastically rise. For the first time, RISUG allows men to have a choice in the matter of impregnation.

Dr. Guha sold the rights to study RISUG to the Parsemus Foundation, an American non-profit organization that focuses on advancing innovative medical research. Parsemus has been conducting clinical trials on RISUG for 25 years.

The procedure has been tested on monkeys, rats, rabbits and progressed to human trials. Tests include the ability to reverse the procedure more than once, whether it affects offspring and, among other things, whether it harms the function of the sperm or prostate after the procedure is reversed.

According to ITT and the Parsemus Foundations, the only negative results stemmed from test subjects who did not receive the injection correctly.

Despite success in the lab, some are resistant to the procedure.

“I wouldn’t have it done anytime in the near future, even though they have been testing it for 25 years. I would want to see more comprehensive results and data,” said Gary Goldberg, a junior international studies student.

Implementing a non-hormonal contraceptive has been the goal of late twentieth century male birth control research.

Female birth control regulates ovulation. In men, it’s harder to accomplish such research because men produce thousands of sperm a day, not just once a month.

The Male Contraception Project keeps track of cutting edge male contraception research.

“Hormones affect everything from A to Z: acne, appetite, blood pressure, breast tenderness, chlamydia sensitivity, cholesterol, diabetes risk, depression, and so on. We don’t need to run that experiment again on men — we can do better,” the Male Contraception Information Project said.

Until the synthesization of RISUG, male contraception was never thought of in this way. It’s a unique approach to use a neutralizing effect and not have to deal with hormones.

Collegian Reporter Scott Fromberg can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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