Monday, June 13, 2011

RISUG

Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance

This is the name of the male birth control method that has been under testing in India since the early 90s. This is the name of a male birth control method that I think is badly needed. This is the name of a male birth control method that I think a lot of men want.

As you know currently men pretty much have 3 choices when it comes to avoiding pregnancy. Condoms (which can break), Vasectomy (which is for the most part totally irreversible), and Abstinence (which means giving up the pleasure of sexual partners, well female sexual partners). But behold thanks to the work of scientist Sujoy Guha we could be on the verge of a fourth option.

As you see one of the difficulties of male contraception is that, unlike female contraception where you are stopping the monthly release of 1 egg (all of which said woman is born with), you are up against the constant production of millions of sperm cells. However it would seem that there is way to stop said millions of sperm cells.
When his turn came, he lay down on the table, and an orderly draped his lower body with a green surgical cloth that covered everything but his scrotum. Then Das moved in with a needle containing a local anesthetic. Once the drug had taken effect, Das gathered a fold of skin, made a puncture, and reached into the scrotum with a fine pair of forceps. He extracted a white tube: the vas deferens, which sperm travel through from the testes to the penis. In a normal vasectomy, Das would have severed the vas, cauterized and tied up the ends, and tucked it all back inside. But rather than snipping, Das took another syringe, delicately slid the needle lengthwise into the vas, and slowly depressed the plunger, injecting a clear, viscous liquid. He then repeated the steps on the other side of the scrotum.
So as you can see instead of snipping the vas deferens a formula is injected into them. What's in that formula and what is its contraceptive effect you wonder?
The procedure is known by the clunky acronym RISUG (for reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance), but it is in fact quite elegant: The substance that Das injected was a nontoxic polymer that forms a coating on the inside of the vas. As sperm flow past, they are chemically incapacitated, rendering them unable to fertilize an egg.
So what you have is someone has decided not to stop the flow but rather alter the flow. What's one million sperm cells if all of them have been rendered unable to fertilize an egg?

I'm liking the sound of this more and more. Not only is the procedure is simple, doesn't have to be done very often, and doesn't have any adverse side effects there is one more thing. So far all the trials done on Indian men have been 100% effective. But speaking of those reasons here's where I put in my negative hopes.

Okay we're in America where money trumps health. Given that this process doesn't have to be done repeatedly (and simply be reversed with another injection to neutralize the inhibiting polymer) I can totally see our pharmaceutical companies fighting this tooth and nail. Hell Trojan alone would probably start brib- oh my bad lobbying everyone in site to stop this. Imagine what they would stand to lose if guys could get a single shot to replace all those 3 dollar boxes of condoms.

On on the off chance that it did make it to the states I can so see some American company getting a patent on it and then charging outrageous prices for it. $500 dollar injections are not unheard of in The States so seeing this shot go for a few thousand a pop (and the reversal costing the same). Which would do a great job of negating one of the biggest advantages of this, an long term option for couples that don't want kids.

But back on the plus side that would mean that some people would have to go find something else to bitch about in their never ending quest to make women the eternal victims of everything.

Seriously though I would really, really, really, like to see this come over here and give men another option when it comes to taking control of their reproduction. And it looks like I'm not the only one:
But RISUG is garnering interest beyond India. Every week, Guha’s inbox fills with entreaties from Western men. They’ve heard about RISUG on Internet forums or from occasional mentions in newspaper and magazine articles. Some of them even volunteer to travel to India, offering themselves as lab rats. Guha puts them off gently but politely; for now, the trials are open only to Indian men.

2 comments:

DaisyDeadhead said...

The man who made this had a vasectomy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OzS8xK_wSk

Those "whooos" were his *twins* graduating from high school :-P Irreversible? Not.

Danny said...

Fair enough. While not totally irreversible (and mind you said "for the most part") there's still the matter that the reversal of a vasectomy (which requires a surgery itself) requires another surgery.

So RISUG is shaping up to be the much easier option (one injection to activate, a second injection to deactivate).

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