What is RISUG?

The pill, the ring, the patch and the IUD are all long-term female contraceptive devices that have existed for decades.

Where is the male equivalent? Where is the product that can guarantee men sterility until they choose to reverse it?
And how could this product affect the life of an average college student?

This final question, at least, has a clear answer: every sexually active college student should be knowledgeable about birth control. Effective, easy birth control options are essential to family planning for young adults.

RISUG (Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance) could be the answer to the other two questions.

Development of this technology was spearheaded by Professor S. Guha and his team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi (Guha et al. 1993). In their initial human trial men given the predicted effective dose reached sterility 30-84 days after injection. Further human trials have confirmed RISUG contraceptive effectiveness, but no RISUG reversal has been performed on a human patient.

However, several animal subjects have undergone successful sterilizations and reversals (Ansari et al. 2012). Trials in rats and langur monkeys have yielded 100% success rates among their test groups.

The vasectomy (shown) is an effective method of male sterilization. In most cases, however, it is a permanent operation. Image courtesy of Unbounded Medicine.

Neither animal researchers nor human test groups have reported any serious side effects of RISUG treatment. Two men in the initial trial human trial did experience scrotal swelling which was successfully treated with antiinflammatory drugs (Guha et al. 1993).

Long term testing has not yet been performed, but Prof. S Guha estimates that effectiveness of one treatment could remain for up to 10 years (Guha et al. 1997). After this period another injection could (in theory) be administered to renew contraceptive effects.

RISUG has passed Phase I and II trials in India and is currently undergoing Phase III (Jha et al. 2009). It is patented under the name Vasalgel in the US, and the Parsemus Foundation has been involved in an effort to get the procedure FDA approved since 2010.

Image courtesy of howsyourrobot.com

How much difference could RISUG make in a nation where 35.1% of undergraduate college students experience a pregnancy with a partner before they graduate (Association of American colleges and universities 2000)?

The reality is that the world needs a long-term male contraceptive like RISUG, and in a few years this solution may become viable.