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Science
11 Apr 2017

Bimek SLV - the next possible male contraceptive

The fledgling market of male birth control

In a fresh development, a German company has designed the Bimek SLV - a valve that diverts sperm back to the testicles.

It is much simpler than a vasectomy - there's no need for surgery, and inserting it takes just half an hour. It can be controlled with an easily-accessible on-off switch.

Trials will be held on 25 men later this year.

In context

The fledgling market of male birth control

Tradition

The curious world of male birth control

Birth control has traditionally been an aspect of women's health. However, with recent developments in science and an increasing focus on feminism, the spotlight has gradually turned to men.

But, the industry of male contraceptives faces quite a few obstacles - starting from religious pressures, to low demand.

Here's a look at what's happening around the globe when it comes to male birth control.

11 Apr 2017

Bimek SLV - the next possible male contraceptive

In a fresh development, a German company has designed the Bimek SLV - a valve that diverts sperm back to the testicles.

It is much simpler than a vasectomy - there's no need for surgery, and inserting it takes just half an hour. It can be controlled with an easily-accessible on-off switch.

Trials will be held on 25 men later this year.

Research advances on Vasalgel after trials on monkeys, rabbits

Vasalgel

Research advances on Vasalgel after trials on monkeys, rabbits

Research on Vasalgel, developed by the American NGO Parsemus Foundation, has also been advancing: it has been tested successfully on male rhesus macaques, and according to expectations, it has been found to be reversible in rabbits.

It works by stopping sperm before they leave the body; they are then reabsorbed by the body.

If all goes well, it will eventually be tested on humans.

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India

India had its own RISUG since 2010

BBC in 2010 talked about Sujoy K Guha, an Indian biomedic, who had invented the Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance (RISUG).

When inserted into the vas deferens, it would work as a contraceptive for up to 10 years, and could be reversed by injecting sodium bicarbonate.

200 men had already undergone successful clinical trials, and Guha reported much interest in the West too.

Side effects too much to handle for men?

When subjects of a study on male contraception reported side effects, it caused much trolling on the internet, especially because they (mood swings, weight gain etc) were reportedly not much different than those of women's birth control - except some who experienced severe emotional issues.

Female contraceptives an easier product

The sexes

Female contraceptives an easier product

The mass manufacture of male birth control is hard due to several reasons: biologically, women produce one egg every month, while men produce millions of sperms.

With women, the risk-benefit analysis involves a potential pregnancy, while men don't generally have to worry about it.

Prolonged birth-control use for women can help them tackle problems with their monthly cycles; with men, there's no such angle.

Industry

Big pharma pushes back against innovation

Innovative male birth control methods, almost always non-traditional, aim for a cheap and long-lasting product, which goes against the very idea of for-profit pharmaceutical companies.

Such products also hamper the current women-centric market for contraceptives.

When CNBC contacted major drug companies to talk about the issue, either there was no one in-house able to discuss, or they simply declined to.

Male contraceptives currently in testing phase

Currently, a few contraceptives aimed at men, including tablets like Clean Sheets Pill (which prevents release of semen) and Gendarussa (which makes sperm unable to fertilise eggs), are being tested. The former is also believed to help in preventing HIV.

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