Coming Soon

A new injectable birth control for men who prefer to ride bareback


She was on her hands and knees in the corner of her bedroom, back arched down with sweaty damp black hair swinging as she paused to place the palm of her hand on the bottom dresser drawer to brace her movement. As pens, pictures and perfume bottles fell down, I closed my eyes, gripped her waist and moaned with satisfaction. I knew she wasn’t on any type of birth control and I wasn’t wearing any protection either. That night, I dodged one of the biggest bullets of my life. Not all guys are that lucky when it comes to engaging in unprotected sex.

Having unprotected sex is dangerous and risky for a number of reasons including pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV; but the feeling of raw sexual contact is often something that some men just can’t pass up. For the men who wear their sexual prowess on their sleeves and refuse to use protection, or rely on the woman to use contraception, a new birth control for men is on the way and should be available in 2017.

The male contraceptive Vasalgel, put out by the Parsemus Foundation, is a long-acting, non-hormonal contraceptive, similar to a vasectomy. Now before you cringe with your legs held tightly together, there is no cutting and no scalpel involved, and it is easily reversible. According to the Parsemus Foundation website, “The polymer gel is injected into the vas deferens (the tube the sperm swim through), rather than cutting the vas (as is done in vasectomy).” This polymer allows fluid to pass but will block any sperm that attempt to pass through. At any point the polymer can be flushed out with a second injection if a man wishes to bring his sperm back and it only requires a single treatment in order to be effective for an extended period of time. According to the drug company’s website, if a man wishes to restore his flow of sperm, whether after months or years, the polymer is flushed out of the vas with another injection.

So far, Vasalgel has proven effective in a baboon study. Three male baboons were injected with Vasalgel and given unrestricted sexual access to 10 to 15 female baboons each. After six months of sexual activity, no female baboons have been impregnated. This success sparked new funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Parsemus Foundation is planning to start human trials for Vasalgel next year. And last month, a Bay Area group announced that is hoping to begin clinical trials.

Elaine Lissner, director of the Male Contraception Information Project and the Parsemus Foundation, said in the New York Times’ Room for Debate, “In the effort to improve family planning options, we’ve somehow overlooked half of humanity: men haven’t gotten a new option in more than a century. And it’s not that men aren’t interested: Men are already using the only two methods they have — condoms, which are not perfect, and vasectomy, which is basically permanent — in great numbers. Add in withdrawal, and men are covering nearly a third of U.S. contraceptive use.”

There is also the issue of birth control for women and its effects. According to WomensHealth.Gov, side effects of the birth control pill include an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, blood clots, nausea, irregular bleeding, and depression. Less common methods of contraception like diaphragms and sponges can cause the rare and life-threatening toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Injections like Depo-Provera can cause bone loss and the use of intrauterine devices (IUDs) can potentially cause rips or tears in the uterus itself.

But will men be willing to use it? Lissner says yes. “The idea that men in the United States aren’t willing to participate is clearly out of date.”

According to Lissner, more than 23,000 men and women have signed a petition calling for new methods, and 18,000 men and women are waiting to hear about clinical trials for Vasalgel.

Still, some men dislike the idea of the new option. Lane Jackson, a 22-year-old integrative biology major at the University of La Verne, said he does not like the idea of taking something that disrupts the biological cycle. “I don’t like drugs that interrupt your natural biology. But I don’t think women should to take a pill either.”

Ted Breslow, a 21-year-old biology major at the University of La Verne, said he would consider it, on condition. “If you can make a birth control that has no side effects and no permanent alterations to your body, I would do it,” said Breslow. He added that he would not judge a woman for her decision to not use the pill. “I would never say anything to a girl because that’s her decision. If I was dating a girl and she didn’t feel comfortable taking the pill I would not mind using alternative methods.”

However, on’s community board, the responses to this new male birth control are not so positive. One user who goes by the name Killeroo wrote, “Fucking never take anything Big Pharma has made — end of story!” User zzxq90 wrote, “I prefer pulling out. So does my fiance. I am in control 100%. I don’t understand how accidents happen.”

But young men like Josh Addison, a 25-year-old computer programmer in Los Angeles, Calif., is on board for a new kind of birth control. “If it’s reversible and there’s no cutting involved, why wouldn’t I take advantage of it? The last thing I need is a baby right now.”

While new forms of male birth control are something to look forward to, this does not solve the problem of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. In this case, the most reliable form of protection is still condoms, or of course abstinence.

Header image by Cynthia Schroeder

Substance is a publication of the Mt. San Antonio College Journalism Program. The program recently moved its newsroom over to Medium as part of a one-year experiment. Read about it here.