After more than 10 years of research, a team of government scientists has announced they’re finally ready to start human trials on what they believe could serve as the first effective hormonal male contraceptive. The topical gel, known as Vasagel, is expected to stop men from producing sperm. If effective in human trails, it will be a huge leap for hormone-based male contraceptives. A 2016 trial of an injectable male contraceptive found that hormonal intervention worked, but was halted after several participants complained of intense mood swings and other harmful side effects
A clinical trial to test the gel’s effectiveness begins in April and will last for four years, making it the most extensive effort to test a male hormonal form of birth control in American medical history. More than 400 couples from around the world, including America, England, Italy, Sweden, Chile, and Kenya, will participate in the study. Male participants of the trial will take home a bottle of the gel and rub approximately half a teaspoon of it on their upper arms and shoulders (not on their junk) every day. The gel is supposed to suppress sperm levels for about 72 hours, giving men a bit of a grace period in case they ever accidentally forget to apply the gel.
This potential game-changing reportedly contains two synthetic hormones, a form of progestin, and testosterone. Progestin will prevent the testes from making enough testosterone to produce adequate levels of sperm. The replacement testosterone will then counteract the hormone imbalances the progestin causes without making the body produce sperm.
If this gel proves to be effective, it will be a major victory for male contraceptives, as men currently have to choose between wearing a condom or getting a vasectomy. However, men shouldn’t expect tubes of Vasagel to begin popping up on Rite Aid shelves anytime soon, the extensive testing and necessary approvals could take years to ensure the contraceptive is completely safe for the general public. So until then, men should keep the love gloves handy, or get a snipped.