Tag Archives: Vasalgel

Why The First Male Birth Control Pill Won’t Be Successful (And Why That’s Still Progress)

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When it comes to our health, certain treatments or trends occur faster than others. Fad diets and health crazes can gain favor, fall out of favor, and be forgotten all within the same year. For more serious aspects of our health, the wide acceptance of certain treatments and trends can take longer, even if they work as advertised. When it comes to our sex lives, though, it can be even more challenging.

It’s one thing to be worried about your waistline and your ability to fit into an old pair of pants. It’s quite another to worry about whether certain intimate parts of your body are functioning properly. Naturally, we tend to worry a lot more about the sexy parts. Why else would boob jobs be so popular?

This gets even more touchy when issues surrounding contraception come up. Even when there’s a major breakthrough that has the potential to revolutionize our sex lives and our fertility, it takes time for it to permeate throughout society. It’s also a lot more prone to taboo and political protests than boob jobs.

Just look at the documented history of the female birth control pill. The actual pill itself was invented in 1951. Human testing didn’t begin until 1954 and the FDA didn’t approve it until 1957, but it was only approved to use for severe menstrual disorders. It’s only in 1960 when it’s approved for use as a contraceptive, but it still takes years before it becomes both widely used and socially accepted.

Overall, it took at least a decade before the female birth control pill really established itself as part of modern medicine and as part of our sexual culture. I cite that history because men are close to forging a similar history with contraception. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that men are on the brink of the biggest upheaval in their sex lives since the invention of condoms.

I’ve written about the promise and potential social impact of male contraceptives, referencing developments in products like Vasalgel. However, that method is still in the testing phases and probably won’t get regulatory approval within the next few years. Given that it is also requires a targeted injection, that testing will be subject to a lot more scrutiny, as would be expected of things that involve needles near genitals.

It’s far more likely that a pill will get approval before something like Vasalgel, if only because people are more comfortable taking pills than getting a shot. In fact, as I write this, the University of Washington is conducting a large-scale human test on an oral contraceptive for men called dimethandrolone undecanoate, or DMAU for those who would rather not learn that level of science jargon.

While DMAU doesn’t offer quite as much promise as Vasalgel, it does offer a similar product to the one women have been using for half-a-century now. It’s a one-a-day pill that men can take with their morning coffee. Also like its female counterpart, it uses hormones that effectively block the production of sperm. For men already used to taking pills every day for other issues, it wouldn’t be that hard of an adjustment.

That said, though, this first step towards equalizing male contraceptive methods will face a lot more obstacles than the female birth control pill did when it first came out. In fact, I’d go so far as to predict that if DMAU were approved by the FDA tomorrow, it probably wouldn’t be that successful.

I say that as someone who freely admits he’s not good with predictions, as my Super Bowl picks last year prove. However, being a man who follows these kinds of sex-related issues, I feel like I have more insight than most when it comes to gauging the potential of a major advancement for our collective sex lives.

Like it or not, and I’m sure those versed in identity politics will cringe at this, men are wired differently than women, especially when it comes to their sexual health. There was a very different set of motivating factors behind the female birth control pill, so much so that getting women to adopt it wasn’t too challenging, even if it took years. With men, though, it’s a different story.

Men are already far less likely to go to the doctor than women. They’re also far less likely to ingest something that might impact their hormones and, by default, their sex lives. Since DMAU utilizes hormones in inhibiting sperm production, it’s going to have the potential for side-effects. Even the doctors in the study admit that.

Of the test subjects who completed the study and were taking 400 milligrams (mg) of DMAU – the highest dose tested – few reported symptoms consistent with testosterone deficiency.

The subjects who were given the pill did have weight gains of between 1 and 3 pounds on average, according to Page.

“The weight gain and a small decrease in good cholesterol levels, HDL, are things we’re going to look at more closely in future studies,” Page says.

This is where I have to denigrate my own gender, but when it comes to tolerating side-effects, I think women have men beat in that arena. The many side-effects women endure with contraception is proof enough of that. Men, as tough as we can be, are somewhat dense when it comes to accepting certain side-effects.

It’s for that reason why I think DMAU is going to have limited success at most and will likely fall out of favor quickly once more promising alternatives like Vasalgel enter the market. Even without those alternatives, though, I suspect DMAU will not gain widespread acceptance among men, even for those who have been clamoring for more contraceptive options.

Now, and this is where I’m going to make another prediction, I think that limited success or outright failure will actually mark a huge turning point in the history of male contraception and a positive one at that. To some extent, failure is part of the process when it comes to making progress in our health. Again, anyone who knows anything about fad diets can attest to that, some being worse failures than others.

To some extent, the first male contraceptive pill will be like the first cell phone. It’ll be clunky, crude, and not nearly as efficient as consumers wish it were. It’ll also likely be pretty pricy as well, as only the Gordon Gekko’s of the world could afford those early cell phones. However, that doesn’t mean the product itself was a waste or a loss.

Keep in mind, the first cell phone was probably considered strange and unnecessary in a market that was used to making calls from LAN lines. Why would anyone even want a cell phone that was bulky, expensive, and offered only spotty coverage when you could accomplish the same thing with a phone booth and a quarter?

Over time, though, and as the technology improved, cell phones made their way into the market. I suspect that the first male birth control pill will do the same. At first, it’s going to be seen as strange. It may even seem unnecessary to men who can get the same effect from a box of condoms at a gas station for less than five bucks.

The value, however, isn’t in how men initially react to the first male birth control pill. The true value is just putting the idea out there that men now have this option. Even if only a handful of men take advantage of it, that’s still enough to establish a consumer base.

That small consumer base will eventually grow as the idea of a male birth control pill stops being a novelty like the first cell phone and becomes a legitimate consumer product. There will be plenty of room for improvement. There may even be some unpleasant stories about men struggling with the side-effects.

In the long run, that’s a good thing because once a consumer base is in place, they’re going to demand improvements to the product. More improvements will create a better product. It has helped create a wealth of options for women. Eventually, like the cell phone, male birth control will undergo a similar process until it ends up with the contraceptive equivalent of the iPhone.

That process will take time and there will be missteps along the way, just as there were with female contraceptives. The most important part of that process is just establishing the idea this is an option for men who want more choice and control of their fertility. It’s a level of choice and control they haven’t had before, one that women have enjoyed for decades.

Beyond just giving men more options and choices with respect to their fertility, products like DMAU could start the process of narrowing a lingering gender disparity that has been fodder for plenty of gender-driven conflict. The more we can do to alleviate that disparity, the better.

It’s going to take a while for that idea to sink in. In many ways, the first male birth control pill is going to start behind the curve, but that’s okay. The day will eventually come when both men and women can finally say they have equal control over their fertility. It’s still a first step and given how far the technology has to go to catch up to women, it’s a step that needs to happen in the name of true gender equality.

 

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Advances In Male Contraception And What It Means For Women

I wasn’t planning to do a follow-up on yesterday’s big post about male contraception. In fact, I originally had an entirely different set of topics to discuss this week. However, some issues are just so relevant and so tantalizing that I can’t resist. I know contraception isn’t an overly sexy topic, but let’s face it. It has some very sexy implications.

It’s not hard to see why. Contraception does affect our sexual behavior as a society and a culture. The fact that the Catholic Church hates it is proof enough of that. Their hate doesn’t change the fact that contraception is as old as civilization, if not older. The problem is that, with the exception of condoms, most of these methods focus on the women.

Now there are logical reason for this that have nothing to do with some grand patriarchal conspiracy and everything to do with the inescapable tenants of male/female biology. Radical feminists may claim otherwise, but high school level biology is working against them.

It’s due to these biological restrictions that the modern history of contraception is closely tied to the modern women’s movement. It’s no coincidence that the advent of reliable birth control in the 60s also coincided with the women’s movement that began in the mid-60s.

From a logistical point of view, it makes sense. Contraception didn’t just give women more control over their fertility than they have at any time in human history. It leveled the playing field. Now women could participate in the economy and not be subject to the frequent interruptions of pregnancy, which could even prove fatal in some cases.

Again, the Catholic Church hates this. The idea of genders being equals does not sit well with certain institutions that would rather see women as breeding factories who regularly pump out new adherents/workers/tax-payers/soldiers/consumers. However, if we’re to create a more equal society with more balanced romances, then contraception is key.

That balance has already played out in ways that modern generations don’t even realized. Despite what the anti-gay marriage crowd would have you believe, modern marriage is very different from what it has been for most of human history.

The biggest difference, by far, is the concept of marrying for love. As an erotica/romance writer, that’s pretty jarring because marrying for love is often part of the narratives we craft when molding romantic stories.

However, for most of human history, we didn’t marry for love. We often married whoever our parents told us to marry. Love was even seen as disruptive to this institution. So whenever someone talks about “traditional marriage,” they might as well be referring to a loveless marriage.

Contraception changed that. Contraception made it so people didn’t have to get married for children. They didn’t have to get married because they got too horny one night and the woman ended up pregnant. People could actually choose who they married. What a concept right?

This concept couldn’t have worked without contraception because it gave couples control over their fertility. Men and women could spend time to find out whether they were romantically and sexually compatible. If done right, then it makes for a more loving, intimate bond. However, as the divorce rate indicates, there’s room for improvement.

That brings me back to Vasalgel, a potential game-changing contraceptive that the Catholic Church is sure to hate. What the birth control pill did for women in the 60s, Vasalgel could do for men today. It effectively levels the playing field in a way human civilization has never experienced.

It’s exciting and somewhat scary, but it is coming. The effectiveness of Vasalgel has already been proven to work in monkeys with no ill-effects. There are now monkeys in labs that can hump all they want and never have to worry about a monkey baby mama. Those are probably some very happy monkeys.

Within the next three to five years, after further testing with the FDA, this product could become available for men everywhere who also want to avoid baby mamas. Unlike condoms or pills, Vasalgel is as close to idiot-proof as you can get when it comes to contraception. For certain men, that’s very important for reasons I hope are obvious.

As a brief refresher, Vasalgel works in a way that’s not unlike a non-hormonal IUD for women. It involves injecting a special gel into the vas deferens of a man, which are the tubes that carry the sperm from the testes. This gel allows seminal fluid to pass through, but not the sperm. Without the sperm, there’s no possibility for conception. Even the anti-abortion crowd can’t complain about this.

There are no hormones involved so it doesn’t mess with any biology, which has been a big problem with past male contraceptives. It’s also easily reversible, requiring only another injection into the vas deferens to dissolve the gel. After that, the man can go back to making babies like a wannabe Dugger.

It’s also completely passive. Men don’t have to think or worry about it in any capacity. They don’t have to remember to put on a condom. They don’t have to remember to take a pill. Given how much thought and energy men put into video games, football, and extreme sports, that’s also very important.

Once injected, Vasalgel lasts for approximately 10 years. That’s 10 years of men never having to worry about a woman showing up on their doorstep with a baby and a legal document saying they owe them back child support. Ask any guest on Maury Povich why that’s very important to many men.

Beyond giving lawyers one less recourse to screw men out of their money, there will likely be other major impacts on men, women, and society as a whole. Think about it. What will this do for men and male sexuality in general?

Make no mistake. There will be an impact. We saw it with the birth control pill for women. We’ll definitely see something similar with men. I already painted a scenario in my last post for a man who doesn’t want to worry about having children. For this post, I’d like to focus on the women.

In order to do that, I’ll have to remind women of a few unpleasant, unspoken truths that some men harbor towards women. Remember last year when I did a post where I tapped into the mind of a misogynistic man? Well, there’s one key component to that mentality that needs to be highlighted.

One of the unspoken, but rarely-discussed attitudes that men have towards women has to do with using their horniness against them. Men hate it when women use their insatiable desire to have sex to manipulate them. As men and as human beings, we can’t turn off our horniness. It’s what drives us to jump through all the hoops that women make us jump through, even when they have serious legal ramifications.

The biggest manifestation of this disdain comes in the form of women who get with men for the sole purposes of locking them in with marriage and/or child support. While marriage is difficult in that it requires legal documents, getting pregnant does not. It just requires that a woman have sex with a man at a time when he’s too horny to remember to put on a condom. Given how horny men can get, this is not a difficult feat.

It’s this kind of manipulation that makes men say and think some of the horrible, misogynistic crap that makes radical feminists hulk out. They hate that women use their sexuality against them. They hate that they can’t always control the outcome of their short-sighted sexual escapades. When you’re that horny, you just don’t think things through.

Vasalgel changes that in a big way by removing that traditionally easy method that women can use to manipulate men. If a man uses Vasalgel, then it doesn’t matter what the woman does to get him into bed. He won’t get her pregnant. He won’t give her that baby that’ll entitle her to a healthy chunk of his paycheck. It wouldn’t just put Maury Povich out of business. It would change the way women have to relate to men.

Suddenly, women can’t extort men in a way that is far too easy, as many professional athletes can attest. They can’t hook up with him with the sole purpose of extracting valuable children from him. If they want access to his money and resources, they actually have to put in the time, effort, and passion to make him want to be with her. What a concept, right?

Beyond baby mamas for pro athletes, Vasalgel could have an even greater impact on the sexual behavior of youth. Many of us, minus those in Texas, endured sex ed in high school. We learned all about contraception, diseases, and all the ways that getting knocked up when you’re young can ruin your life.

Well, to this point, only the teenage girls could do something about that. For the teenage boys, they could never be sure whether the girl they were trying to hook up with was on birth control. It’s not just stressful in a way that makes it hard to get a boner. It gives the girls a significant amount of leverage over the boys. Give any gender that kind of leverage and you’re just asking for trouble.

Throw Vasalgel into the mix and things change. Suddenly, a teenage boy knows that he won’t be getting any girls pregnant for the duration of high school or college. He can be as irresponsible as he wants, banging every drama student and cheerleader in his path, and never have to worry about knocking them up in a way that’ll make some girl’s father hunt him down with a shotgun.

Once again, this levels the playing field. This means girls are the ones who can’t be sure if a man has Vasalgel or not. That means they actually have to talk to each other about who does what to avoid getting pregnant. It’s sure to be an awkward conversation, but the mere fact that they talk this stuff out is important for two people who are thinking about having sex.

At a time when young people are less sexually active than ever before, this could very well change that. Take away the stress and anxiety of contraception, especially among the exceedingly horny men of this world, and there are far fewer reasons for young people not to bone.

Assuming that Vasalgel makes it through the necessary testing phases, it could very well be available for the coming generation entering their teen years. Granted, those teen years will surely be awkward for many different reasons, but not having to worry about unplanned pregnancy will definitely help.

This means that we’re on the cusp of a major dynamic shift between genders. What will happen to the way men and women relate to one another when they both have equal control over their sexuality? It’s not just a thought experiment anymore. We’re going to find out very soon. As an aspiring erotica/romance writer, I look forward to the possibilities.

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The Future Of Contraception (For Men)

There are some technological advancements that are exceedingly overdue. It’s easy to be caught off-guard by some advancements. Who the hell besides “Star Trek” and “The Simpsons” would’ve thought that advances like smart-phones and farm simulators would’ve caught on?

These kinds of advances are nice/shocking/annoying surprises. However, there are some enhancements that seriously need to happen for society to fix a major problem. I’m not talking about nuclear fusion, flying cars, jet packs, or sex robots though, although there has been some recent development in that field. I’m talking about male birth control.

Like nuclear fusion and a “Fantastic Four” movie that doesn’t suck, this is one of those advancements that science has been working on for decades now. Unfortunately, progress has been slow, regressive, or non-existent in some cases. At the same time, however, options for female birth control have only grown, so much so that the amount of choices is almost on part with the flavors of potato chips.

So what’s the hold-up? Why is science dragging its feet here and keeping the burden of contraception solely on the backs of women? Well, before all the radical feminists out there break out their pitchforks and bullhorns, take a deep breath and calm down. It has nothing to do with some vast, misogynistic conspiracy perpetrated by the patriarchy. It’s just a matter of human biology.

The basic science of contraception is simple. There are dozens of steps that go into making a pregnancy happen. All contraception has to do to be effective is stop just one. That’s easy for women because it only involves stopping a single cell, namely the ovum. You can stop it with hormones. You can stop it with implants. In biological terms, it’s relatively easy because it’s one cell. It’s the science equivalent of fighting zombies with a tank.

For men, it’s a bit trickier. It’s akin to trying to hit a barrage of baseballs the size of marbles with an undersized plastic bat. The average “load” of a man contains between 40 million and 200 million sperm cells. Even a hulked-out Barry Bonds on his best day can’t hope to hit every one of those cells.

This is why, with the exception of condoms, it’s so difficult to create a reliable form of contraception for men. It’s a matter of volume, biology, and sheer numbers. Again, the patriarchy isn’t behind this. It’s purely a matter of pragmatics.

That hasn’t stopped science from trying. Naturally, there’s significant demand for a product that’ll ensure men that they’ll never be on the wrong end of a paternity test. For the Evander Holyfields and DMX’s of the world, that’s an important bit of assurance because failing that test can cost a lot in terms of legal recourse.

Earlier this year, one attempt at male birth control ended in miserable failure when men couldn’t handle the side-effects. It made men everywhere the butt of a lot of jokes, especially among women who had been dealing with the side-effects of contraception for decades. As a man, I definitely felt an unseen kick to the balls. That said, it did highlight the inherent difficulty in achieving this critical advancement.

Well, the promise of male birth control might actually be closer than we think and not in the flying cars sort of way. According to ScienceAlert, a new product called Vasalgel is making its rounds through testing and so far, it may hold the most promise to giving men the same control over their fertility that women have enjoyed for decades.

How does it work? It’s basically a dissolvable gel that is injected into vas deferens, which are those tiny tubes that sperm flow through after they leave the testes. The gel blocks the sperm, but not the rest of the seminal fluid that gets released upon ejaculation. That means men still get the sweet, sexy release they crave, but that release contains no sperm. It’s the semen-equivalent of calorie-free soda.

This method is far more preferable in the sense that it doesn’t use hormones, which apparently men aren’t as equipped to handle as women. It’s also not a regiment that requires men to take a pill daily. Given the “meathead effect” caused by testosterone, that’s pretty damn important.

When used properly, which is always key in any medical application, Vasalgel works for approximately ten years. That’s basically then years of baby-free boning for men. Considering how many kids certain professional athletes tend to father, that’s a big deal.

Beyond reducing the need to make child support payments, this form of male contraception is vital with respect to leveling the playing field for genders. Let’s not lie to ourselves, guys. We’re playing an unfair game with unequal rules in the contraception game.

We put the burden on the women to manipulate their bodies accordingly so they don’t get pregnant when they don’t want to. They have to down pills, shoot themselves up with chemicals, or implant little devices up into their lady parts. All we men have to do is put on a latex sheath over our dicks. That’s just not fair.

Beyond putting all these expectations on the ladies we want to love and make love with, we’re also putting ourselves at a disadvantage. You want to know why Maury Povich is in business? It’s because men just don’t have any options beyond condoms or vasectomies to control their fertility. Absent those options, we’re still incredibly horny and, as we routinely demonstrate, we don’t think clearly when we’re horny.

With Vasalgel, assuming it works as advertised, the playing field isn’t just level. The whole contraception game is basically on easy mode. This isn’t something we have to apply in the heat of the moment when we’re so horny that we can barely do basic math. This is something we do at a doctor’s office once every decade and then basically forget about it. Like hot pockets and breakfast burritos, it helps when things are that easy.

Picture the following scenario. A 16-year-old boy is an aspiring athlete. Everyone tells him he has what it takes to play at the college level and maybe even the pros. He’s a big star at the school and, naturally, that attracts a lot of women. He knows that getting a teenage girl pregnant is a very good way to derail any promising future. Just ask Travis Henry.

To nip this issue early on, he goes to a doctor and gets a Vasalgel injection. That means for the rest of his high school and college career, at least, he doesn’t have to worry about getting a girl knocked up. He can enjoy all the naked cheerleaders he wants without worry.

Now this wouldn’t stop some girls from claiming he fathered their child. This does happen. Look up something called “Baller Alert” and prepare to become an angry Al Bundy. Some women do prey, and smartly so, on the horniness of men and use it to their advantage. Vasalgel could stop that.

I believe that if and when Vasalgel gets approved, it’ll also come with a certificate or some indisputable receipt that shows that a man does have this injection. Perhaps it even has a date and time stamp with it because that would help establish timelines for paternity suits, if and when they come up. It would give men an extremely powerful tool not just to control their fertility, but to fight back against predatory baby mamas.

Think back to those professional athletes who couldn’t keep it in their pants. How much money and frustration would they have saved if they had something like Vasalgel?

That’s why I believe that male contraception is a vital advancement. So long as there is an unequal dynamic between genders, there will always be conflict. Balance out that conflict and maybe we can focus less on paternity suits and more on finding better ways to relate to one another. If those ways involve a more honest way of making love, then that’s just a nice bonus.

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