Birth Control for Men or Male Contraception
Birth control has always been a reason of concern for both men and women. While rapid strides have been made in the field of female contraception, male contraceptive methods remain much the same for past so many years. Let us look at the various choices that men have in the field of contraception.
Birth Control Methods Available for Men
Men have had four options as far as birth control is concerned. They are:
- Use of barrier contraceptives
Use of barrier contraceptives: This has been the most favored form of birth control for men. It stops the sperm from reaching up to the egg and fertilizing it. Therefore, it is an effective form of birth control when used at the right time. Moreover, it is the single most effective method of preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
Withdrawal: In this method, the man withdraws the penis just before ejaculation. However, this is not a very reliable form of contraception as sperms may still pass into the vagina. Moreover, using this method repeatedly can lead to development of vaginismus in women. This is a condition where there is painful spasm of the muscles of the pelvic floor.
Vasectomy: This is a small surgical procedure wherein the vas deferens is ligated. Hence, the sperms produced in the testicles cannot reach the penis. The procedure is usually irreversible.
New Advancements in The Field of Male Contraception
There are many ongoing research projects to develop newer forms of male contraception. Two main areas of research include:
- Hormonal contraception
- Use of non-hormonal methods
Hormonal Contraception in Men
We know that testosterone is required for the production of sperms. The objective of research in the field of hormonal contraception is to find a way to temporarily block the effect of testosterone on the testes so that they do not produce sperms. But this has to be done in a manner that other side effects of low testosterone do not manifest.
One way this objective can be achieved is by giving synthetic variety of testosterone to men along with progestogen. This keeps the level of testosterone in the blood normal. So, the sexual drive of the man is not diminished. But it stops the production of sperms. Although the research seems promising, the biggest pitfall is that some men keep producing enough sperms to make a woman pregnant. Men of different ethnic origins show the different rate of suppression of sperm production.
Currently these methods focus on the vas deferens. Two projects show some promise. They are:
- Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance (RISUG): In this technique, a chemical is injected into the vas deferens. It chemically reacts in a manner that it blocks the vas. So the sperms can no longer reach the penis. The sperms that come in contact with this chemical are also killed. The contraception becomes effective almost immediately after taking the injection. The technique is reversible. Whenever, the man desires to have a child, another injection is given into the vas. It dissolves the earlier chemical and flushes the vas so that the sperms can once again pass through it unhindered.
- Intra-Vas Device (IVD): It is a variation of RISUG. Here, the chemical that is injected, plugs the vas. It filters out the sperms when they pass through the vas deferens.
Both the methods look promising. However, they need to be assessed for long term affectivity and safety.