Will the world’s ‘first male birth control shot’ work?

For a long time, there have been only two contraceptive solutions which rely directly on men.

They can either wear a condom, or have sterilising surgery called a vasectomy to cut or seal the two tubes that carry sperm to the penis. A male birth control pill and a contraceptive gel are still in the works.

But India says it is going to launch the world’s first male birth control injection soon. Will this be the male contraceptive that succeeds?

Invented by Sujoy Guha, a maverick 78-year-old Delhi-based biomedical engineer, the drug is a single preloaded syringe shot into the tubes carrying sperm from the testicle to the penis, under local anaesthesia. The non-hormonal, long-acting contraceptive, researchers claim, will be effective for 13 years.

After years of human trials, the drug called Risug, an acronym for reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance, is ready. It is a viscous gel which inactivates the sperm. The effectiveness of a second part of the treatment – an injection which dissolves the gel, hopefully reversing the effects and allowing a man to father a child – hasn’t yet been tested in humans, though it has worked in animal studies.

And, like other non-barrier methods, the contraceptive injection wouldn’t protect against sexually-transmitted infections.

“This will be a world class contraceptive for men. It is safe and effective and lasts for long. We expect it will be cleared for production in the very near future,” says RS Sharma, a reproductive biologist at the Delhi-based Indian Council of Medical Research and the drug’s lead researcher.

But there are some questions over whether this is truly a reversible contraceptive…Read More

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