Health and Fitness

The latest advance in male birth control is a gel that literally blocks sperm

So far, there are no side effects.
IMAGE Esquire

Female contraceptives have existed since the 1960s, but to this day, male contraception comes in only two forms: vasectomy or condoms. One is largely irreversible, and the other is far from fool-proof. But researchers are testing a new male contraceptive called Vasagel on primates that was 100 percent effective in the latest round, The Guardian reports.

Vasagel is a gel injected into the tube that transports sperm from the testes, blocking the pathway for long periods of time. It is reversible, it does not lower sperm count, and there are no hormonal side effects. Recent tests of another form of male birth control—an injection that lowered sperm count—were halted after the participants reported unpleasant side effects like acne, depression, and increased libido. (For the record, women have experienced hormonal side effects like these since the '60s.)

The study's lead author Catherine VandeVoort, of the California National Primate Research Center, compared the gel to an IUD for women, which is long-lasting but not permanent. It would be interesting to note how health insurance companies would adjust their birth control coverage if men and women used it equally. As of yet, however, that's a hypothetical; trials will start on humans only when funding is made available. So, for now, stick to condoms.

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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