Possible 'Game Changer' in Male Contraception Is in the Works

Australian scientists working on 'temporary vasectomy' that lasts 2 years
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 11, 2022 2:12 PM CST
Updated Nov 13, 2022 4:30 PM CST
Possible 'Game Changer' in Male Contraception Is in the Works
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/AmnajKhetsamtip)

A small study out of Australia could pave the path toward a new contraceptive that researchers say could be a "game changer." The two dozen or so men taking part in the trial at a Melbourne medical center will have a hydrogel pumped into their vas deferens—the ducts through which sperm travels—to block sperm from leaving their testicles. Researchers anticipate the effects would last for about two years, at which point patients could then receive another injection. The treatment would effectively serve as a "temporary vasectomy" that may be a more appealing alternative to the more traditional permanent version, per the Sydney Morning Herald.

Study leader Nathan Lawrentschuk, a urologist at the Epworth Freemasons Hospital where the trial is being conducted, says his team was "overwhelmed" by the hundreds of men who wanted to take part in the trial, per ABC Australia. Lawrentschuk points out the various circumstances in which male partners would want to take the lead on contraception, such as when their partners aren't able to take contraception due to medical reasons, or if they've "come out of a long relationship where they want a period of known inability to have a child." So far four men have undergone the injections. Scientists will keep tabs on the subjects, most of whom are between 30 and 40, for three years.

"If it is successful, it could be a game changer, ensuring that contraception is a shared responsibility between couples," says Lawrentschuk, per the Herald. Dr. Liza O'Donnell, a reproductive health scientist at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research who isn't involved in the study, tells ABC that she thinks the research holds promise, as long as the effects truly prove to be reversible. Lawrentschuk—who says similar studies with animals have shown the treatment to be effective—adds that if this trial is successful, a larger one is planned involving subjects in Australia and the United States. This isn't the only male contraceptive possibly on the horizon: The Guardian notes that researchers at Monash University, also in Melbourne, are working on a hormone-free pill for men. (Read more vasectomy stories.)

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