Reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance: Birth control for men is now just an injection away
By Syed Akbar Hyderabad: Birth control is now just an injection away. Take an injection and stayinfertile for as long as 10 years. The process can be reversed to fertility anytime through another injection.India's first indigenously developed male contraceptive is all set to be launched in the market in the next few months. The wait for a safe, hassle-free and "anytime-reversible male contraceptive" has beenquite long and arduous. Almost three decades after it was first developed, the injectible malecontraceptive is now ready for general use in India. At present men, who prefer family planning, have only two major options - condom orvasectomy, while women have more than a dozen including pills and jabs. While condom cannot be relied uponalways, vasectomy is largely irreversible. The new male contraceptive is more reliable thancondom and more temporary than vasectomy. This is the first non-hormone based male contraceptive, andthus safe and effective. IIT Kharagpur's Prof Sujoy Kumar Guha, who developed the famous female contraceptiveCopperT, is the brain behind the reversible male contraceptive that works on the principles of"Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance". During advanced clinical trials as many as 200 men have undergone the procedure withquite encouraging results. The Indian technology has attracted world-wide medical attention with expertsfrom the USA ready to licence it. Since clinical trials done in India are not recognised by the Food andDrug Administration of the US, it will take a couple of years for the male contraceptive to enter the UnitedStates of America. "Every few weeks we get people coming from the West. A lot of them write to us, and anumber of them even come and sit in our hospital, asking for the injection," Prof Sujoy Guha said. An injection containing a non-hormonal polymer is given in the vas deferens or the spermtube. Vasectomy involves cutting of the vas deferens, so sperm though produced in testes does not come out. But, this non-hormonal polymer stays in the vas deferens and makes the sperm less active by taking awayits natural energy. Since the injection is given in the vas deferens, there may be temporary swelling of the scrotum. Except for this temporary swelling, there are no side-effects. The spermatozoa though produced in millions, do not make way to the egg thanks to theirde-activated motility. Since testes continues to produce sperm, it does not affect the biology of theperson like maintenance of muscle mass and male hormonal levels. Another injection (sodiumbicarbonate) in the same region makes the polymer ineffective, and thus the person turns fertile once again. Boththe injections are given under local anaesthesia. A non-profit organisation, Parsemus Foundation, is trying to purchase the rights outsideIndia to utilise the RISUG technology in the USA. The male contraceptive faced a number of hurdles, both bureaucratic and technical, in the last 30 years before the dream could become a reality. When the contraceptive was in phase-III trials, it was stopped abruptly thanks to Centralgovernment intervention. Now that all the hurdles have been cleared, India's own anytime reversiblemale contraceptive is ready to make waves in the medical world.