Male birth control may hit shelves within the next three years, according to a pharmaceutical company. Vasalgel is an injectable gel that forms a barrier so that sperm cannot exit the body. It’s like a reversible, easy-to-apply vasectomy.
It appears to have worked on baboon and rabbit test subjects, so human trials are up next to ensure it doesn’t have any side effects. Parsemus Foundation, a non-profit pharmaceutical company, is hoping that the affordable, non-hormonal birth control will become the popular choice on the market.
Read more: Condoms 101: What you need to know>
The question on everyone’s mind, however, is whether or not men will actually step forward and take it. I’m not so sure. Despite the cries of “it’s your turn,” many men I know refuse have a vasectomy. So, would these same men prefer to inject a gel near their testicles that would block their sperm? Doubtful.
Traditionally, women have been in charge of birth control—having a baby does, after all, take the biggest toll on us. Women have approximately 15 options for reliable birth control, most of them—like the pill—use hormones to prevent pregnancy. The side effects of hormonal-based contraception can range from low sexual desire, to blood clots, to an increased risk of heart disease. Diaphragms, sponges and IUDs have their own set of risks, as well—although, I love my Mirena IUD. Having your tubes tied requires surgery, and abstinence is generally not very good for marriage (or your mental health).
On paper, a cheap and easy alternative to the condom seems like a great idea. Maybe a marketing campaign aimed at maxed-out and tired fathers would be effective. I would certainly trust my husband to be in charge of our family planning moving forward. But if I were a young woman in my twenties, I think I would keep my trusty pill pack close to my side.
The Daily Beast has an excellent article on how a male contraceptive could change the landscape. The funding and marketing of birth control has a lot to do with lobbying and cultural misconceptions about sexuality. But the landscape could be changing. Theoretically, our kids could grow up in a world where men take birth control and women are sold some kind Viagara.
But before men’s birth control becomes a hot-seller, we have to ask ourselves: Would men be responsible with birth control? And would women trust them?