If you thought that “plastics” were a hit in America, take a look at gel technology. Who can forgot those Brylcreem hair gel ads in the 60’s touting “A little dab’ll do ya,” and oh so neatly donned by President Reagan. Then, a decade or two ago, testosterone gels hit the market big time for male hormone replacement and now blow away needle injections in popularity. Yep my friend, gels are here to stay.
Let the Good Times Gel
But besides hair and hormones, could gels be a good idea for male contraception? You bet. The gel vasectomy promises to be the single best advance in the field since the no scalpel technique hit our shores by way of China in the early 90s.
“Huh?” you say. Hard to grasp, I know. Start by thinking “polymers” and not “plastics” and keep reading. India has been injecting gel polymers into men’s sperm tubes for years and they swear by it. In America, two groups are pursuing this technology but our FDA requires that proper animal and human studies be performed and certain standards of safety and effectiveness met before we can offer it stateside.
A Snipless Step
So why is using gels for male contraception so exciting? Here’s why:
- Its entirely non-hormonal and most would agree that men do not need more hormones.
- It’s simpler than the current vasectomy procedure and more akin to a blood draw
- Because it’s a gel polymer, it lets fluid pass by as usual but not sperm, serving as a kind of “fertility filter.” This means no blockage of the tubes which has defined a vasectomy for the past century, and that means less (or no) post-vasectomy pain. Always a good thing.
- Polymers can be dissolved in various ways, and that means there’s great potential for reversibility, as a group just published in, of course…rabbits.
Gels have promise to be the ultimate vasectomy hat trick. Imagine walking into my office one day after your polymer vasectomy a few years back. You decide that you want more kids (bless you). Instead of 2-3 hours of microsurgery (which I love by the way), I simply hold a device and shine it on your scrotum, melting your little glob of polymer, and away you go, fertile as ever. Gotta believe that I would make more friends if vasectomies were this simple. Definitely stayed tuned on this one.