A kick to the babymaker: Scientists perfect male birth control
There’s nothing I hate more than listening to the little pitter patter of unsupervised children running around squealing at a low-cost pizza buffet.
Ultimately, the sadness in your gut from the cardboard crust that has lodged itself sideways in your esophagus is only topped by the sadness in your soul over the lack of attention from the tired parents who just want to “enjoy” their all-you-can-eat respite from cooking at home. Alas, we cannot also forget the sadness in your ears upon the insistent screech of a fallen or ignored or wet child.
Needless to say, the topic of better birth control always tends to surface when my single friends and I dine out at casual restaurants where families run rampant.
I’ll admit I’m already mystified by the allure of babies. I’m too selfish and poor to handle another life form depending upon me to wipe her bum. But as a gay man, my mind is irrevocably blown every time I remember that pregnancy is a looming fear for 90% of the population every time they enact the sacred ritual of partnered copulation. That kind of fear is enough to make me thank my lucky stars.
My female friends, countless female standup comedians, and sexperts like Dr. Ruth Westheimer all agree that birth control has traditionally come down to the planning and vigilance of women. Sure, some dudes are good about condom usage, but my lady friends agree it’s always smarter to add extra baby-free insurance, whether that be from oral contraceptives, the patch, an inter-uterine device or the last-ditch “morning after” pill.
Many of my straight male friends express a combination of relief and guilt when it comes to birth control. They wish they could do more but are so happy they aren’t the ones it ultimately comes down to. “I can’t even remember if I washed the shirt I’m wearing today. I can’t imagine trying to take a pill every day at the same time,” said one, while jamming a slice of Hawaiian pizza in his gullet.
Wouldn’t it be so much better if all the egg-dropping ladies AND the sperm-producing dudes were both putting up their set-it-and-forget-it shields with some kind of an IUD for guys? Scientists have been trying for years, it seems, with vasectomy being the only fully effective and still terrifying option for men.
As if in answer to Jon Gosselin’s prayers from 2004, there may be hope on the horizon. According to The Daily, the San Francisco-based Parsemus Foundation's Elaine Lissner may have unlocked the secret to a male birth control that is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy for ten solid years.
The “reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance,” (RISUG) which Lissner calls Vasalgel is an injectable gel that, once taken, blocks the vas deferens and eventually breaks down sperm’s cell membranes. Men can still ejaculate but without any of those pesky swimmers to complicate things. (If you're interested in the science-y details, you should check out the whole description at Lissner's Male Contraception Information Project website.)
RISUG has been in clinical trials in India for the last 20 years, and none of the 500 test subjects have had any side effect… or, y’know, babies. And those men who choose to go off the stuff have no problem resuming their previous pregnancy-inducing behavior. The stuff of miracles, it seems.
Lissner is ready to bring Vasalgel to the United States and start testing it on the horny Americans who would benefit just as much from a sperm plug as an overpopulated India. Animal trials will begin this year, says The Daily, and the first clinical trials will begin next year.
While America has come quite a long way since The Pill debuted in 1960, it will be fascinating to see how men, women, religion and politics react to this revolutionary approach to population control.
We’ll likely have to wait until 2015 to see Vasalgel on the shelves. Until then, I’ll just stay far away from the pizza buffet.