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Pills, thrills and polymer gels: what's the future for male contracept


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Pills, thrills and polymer gels: what's the future for male contraception?

 

Date: 06/07/2015

There are, despite an ancient and colourful history, only three forms of male contraception: condoms, withdrawal and vasectomy. The first condoms were used by Pasiphae, wife of King Minos of Crete, who used a goat’s bladder in her vagina to protect against his sperm, which was said to contain scorpions and serpents that killed his mistresses. The withdrawal method got bad press in the bible when Onan withdrew and spilt his seed rather than impregnate his widowed sister-in-law, Tamar. God was very displeased with this contraceptive method and killed him. Vasectomy was first offered to a man in Indiana in 1899 as a cure for his “excessive masturbation” – an alternative to the more conventional treatment of castration. The vasectomy was a great success and the physician reported that the patient “became more of a sunny disposition, brighter of intellect and ceased to masturbate”.

And we really haven’t progressed much since then. There is still no reversible male contraceptive, apart from condoms. Vasectomy – a surgical procedure, and by far the most reliable of the three – is also becoming less and less popular in the UK according to recent NHS statistics: rates fell from 30,000 NHS vasectomies in England in 2006/7, to 14,000 in 2012/13 (the most recent figures available). And, even if men do want one, provision of vasectomies on the NHS is being rationedin many areas.

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Source: The Guardian

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