Male Birth Control, Without Condoms, Will Be Here by 2017

The Parsemus Foundation’s messaging on Vasalgel has focused on making the technology appealing to men. In a New York Times op-ed published this year, Elaine Lissner of the Parsemus Foundation pitches the product to “a 20-something or 30-something man, out on the dating market” who is worried about the effectiveness of the pill, given how many women forget to take pills during any given cycle. This pitch, too, is a plea for help. The Parsemus Foundation has to rely on donations and crowdfunding in order to bring male birth control to the market. Long-term treatments like Vasalgel are much less appealing to potential funders in the pharmaceutical industry who, as they observe, would much rather “sell pills to men’s partners every month.” Why sell a flat-screen television to a man, after all, when you can rent one to a woman for a decade?

In other words, the medical industry’s investment in the multibillion-dollar female birth control industry might block men’s access to male birth control just as effectively as Vasalgel would block their sperm. But a contraceptive polymer like Vasalgel would be a major medical innovation for more than just the man about town looking to copulate without consequence. In fact, male birth control could be the next major medical advance in women’s health, as strange as that idea seems.

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