An Indian scientist has invented a male birth control method that's essentially a reversible vasectomy. Now that US researchers are on the bandwagon, the project is getting some attention — but it's still pretty under the radar.
Bill Gifford wrote about reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance — RISUG — in Wired, and the story's getting attention. The procedure, developed by Indian scientist Sujoy Guha, involves injecting a substance into the vas deferens which kills sperm as they pass through. Since sperm are still excreted, the process eliminates some of the side effects of a vasectomy, such as pressure. It can also be reversed with another injection.
Fascinating as the procedure is, there seemed little hope of making it available in the US — until a woman named Elaine Lissner bought the rights to the technique and began the process of positioning it for FDA approval. This will take a long time — Lissner's team will have to repeat all the tests Guha already did in India — and so we likely won't see RISUG on the market here anytime soon. What's more, even the Wired article only recently began getting attention and links from other sites, over a month after publication. Do people really not give a shit about male contraception? Or is there a vicious cycle at work — everyone assumes that nobody cares, so stories about the topic have trouble getting traction, reinforcing the idea that nobody cares? Whatever the case, it's time to start paying attention. Writes Gifford,
RISUG could help poor couples limit their families-increasing their chances of escaping poverty. In the developed countries, it would help relieve women of the risks of long-term birth-control-pill use and give men a more reliable, less annoying option than condoms. About half of all pregnancies in the US are unplanned. Come up with a better contraceptive and the likely results are all good: fewer unwanted kids, fewer single parents, and fewer abortions.
Those benefits are too big to ignore.
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