Male contraceptive finds few volunteers

The Asian Age Staff  | Dr V S Vijayan

Metros, Mumbai


India’s first locally made male contraceptive, Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance (RISUG), has reached a major breakthrough stage of clinical trial and has also been approved by the government. But very few men are coming forward to volunteer for the clinical trials of the contraceptives because of the stigma and fear attached to it.

“The research has been going on for several years and it has reached a new height now. In fact, the government has approved the product and soon after a few more trials, we would submit it to the FDA for approval,” said Dr N.K. Lohiya, president of the Indian Society for Study of Reproduction and Fertility (ISSRF).

However, the main hurdle that the researchers and scientists are facing is the lack of men volunteers to conduct these clinical trials.

“The number of men who have signed up as volunteers is much lesser than the numbers that we need,” said Dr Lohiya.

He mainly blamed the stigma attached with the idea of male contraceptive as the reason for men reluctant to volunteer for clinical trials. “In India, still in 90 per cent of the cases, women undergo sterilisation for family control, not men due to the taboo attached to it,” Dr Lohiya added.

Sunita Bowde, a 27-year-old mother of three children, is again pregnant with another child. But this time, her condition might be serious as she has developed several complications due to repeated births. In fact, after her third delivery, doctors had informed that in her next pregnancy, she might develop complication and suggested her husband who works as a daily-wage worker to undergo sterilisation to stop the fourth pregnancy but he never opted for it.

“My husband is the only earning person in the family so I could not let him undergo sterilisation as it could have affected his health,” said Ms Bowde.

Like Ms Bowde, other people too have several misconceptions especially about methods of preventing pregnancy that primarily involve the male physiology.

“More number of men should come forward for the trials that would help in better analysing the reversibility. Now, to convince people we have to follow them and counsel them to convince them to opt for it,” said Dr Lohiya.

It is a non-hormonal, long-acting contraceptive method for men. A single therapeutic dose of this contraceptive consists of 60mg of styrene maleic anhydride in 120l of dimethylsulphoxide. It is then injected at the vas deferens—the tube that sperm passes from the testes to the penis. One injection can make a man sterile for 10 years.