The world's first male contraceptive is almost a reality, but South African men have feelings

Most fathers (90%, to be exact) say parenting is their greatest joy.
Most fathers (90%, to be exact) say parenting is their greatest joy.

We may be just months away from swapping the traditional vasectomy with an injectable male contraceptive. 

But just how the contraceptive is meant to be taken may leave men wondering whether the ends justify the means. 

As first reported by the Hindustan Times, researchers at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) explained that the substance, called Styrene Maleic Anhydride, is meant to be administered intravenously via the testicles under local anaesthesia.

Developed by biomedical engineer professor Sujoy K. Guha in the 1970s, the product has been put through its paces by the ICMR for the past 35 years, and "is ready after exhaustive [clinical] trials."

According to lead researcher, senior scientist Dr RS Sharma, the product is virtually free of side-effects and is "effective for at least 13 years once injected." 

"The product is ready, with only regulatory approvals pending with the Drugs Controller. The trials are over, including extended, phase 3 clinical trials for which 303 candidates were recruited with 97.3% success rate and no reported side-effects. The product can safely be called the world's first male contraceptive." 

According to the Drug Controller General of India, Dr VG Somani, the product should be available next year. 

"It's the first in the world from India, so we have to be extra careful about approval. We are looking at all aspects; especially the good manufacturing practise (GMP) certification that won't raise any questions about its quality," he said. 

Also see: Birth control pills for men? Here's what you need to know

It seems a no brainer

We asked Bevan Lakay, editor of Health24, to share his thoughts on the new contraceptive. "If you are a man who has decided to not have kids/or have any more kids – it 100% makes sense. A quick, relatively painless injection versus an actual in-theatre procedure – it seems a no brainer," He told Parent24.

"But," he warns, "if you are a man who does not fall into this category mentioned above, it doesn’t make sense. The 13-year period seems excessive - what would make more sense is an annual injection. People may change their minds, and circumstances may change, and we need to legislate for that." 

Local opinion

We asked South African men what they thought of taking a shot to the family jewels, in a bid to prevent pregnancy. It seems men with kids have a different opinion to those who haven't become fathers yet.

Here's what they said. 

"Would I consider the injection? Yes, it sounds less invasive than a vasectomy and like it shouldn't require downtime or involve pain and recovery." - Ted, father of two toddlers.

"Yes, I would consider doing this. It offers another alternative to my partner having to be the only who has to consider various contraceptives (and their side effects)." - Sherman, no kids yet.   

"I’m in two minds on this: If the drug has a guaranteed efficacy, I think it’s a no brainer to go for it and have the injection. But 13 years is a long time, and you might forget that you didn’t want kids. There is also the risk that it won’t last the full 13 years in every person, so there might be additional risk. In terms of STDs, this contraceptive won’t prevent common diseases, so additional protection would still be required in any event. If I had the choice, I think I would prefer a vasectomy as it’s a once-off procedure and has a proven track record."- Duncan, father of three. 

"I just think they need to find a better way of giving it to the guy so that it does not have to last that long because I am all for guys using birth control as well as women but at least make it a little less permanent."- Michael, no kids yet.

"It’s not just in the groin area, it’s in the actual testicles! So first off probably going to be uncomfortable for a bit after. But that’s not the big put off because girls go through much worse too due to the pills, but they can stop when they want a baby. I might have to wait years and years though. That’s my biggest put off." - David, no kids yet. 

"In the midst of the conversations of sex ed at school, which a lot of people seem to be very much against – a question to these parents: If you don’t want to acknowledge and just ignore that your kids are having sex, and do not want to arm them with the potential tools to make better choices, especially considering the rate of teen pregnancies – to those parents, would you consider letting your boys have a preventative injection like this (at say age 10), much like a vaccination? Provided of course that the makers of the product can guarantee after the 13 year-period that these men would be able to father children." - Andile, no kids yet.

"I understand they design it to last long, because nobody wants a weekly jab down there. But is no way to reverse the process within a reasonable time frame?" - Robert, no kids yet. 

"Don't like it cause of the set 13 year time frame as most people who once needing contraceptives will be around 16 - 18 when they would get the injection and the safest and most common time frame for attempting to conceive a child would be around 27 and the older you get and longer you wait the harder and more dangerous it is." - Igor, no kids yet. 

"I'm all for it but 13 years, eish. Nah, I need it to last less than that what if we want kids before 13 years?" - Tshego, no kids yet. 

Local poll

We asked readers what they thought of the idea, and while 52% of respondents said it was a great option for them, the rest had concerns about pain:  

The world's first male contraceptive

What do you think?

Would you, or your male spouse, consider the shot? 

Let us know, and we could publish your mail. 

WhatsApp: Send messages and voicenotes to 066 010 0325

Anonymous contributions are welcome.

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