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Begin forwarded message:

> From: bitbitch
> Date: Wed Sep 3, 2003 4:50:45 PM US/Pacific
> To: FoRK
> Subject: Male birth control that actually works (and no, this isn’t a
> spam ad)
> Fanfucking -tastic. As for the argument that men don’t like having
> their junk touched, to this I say, ‘Too damn bad.’ If RISUG is for
> real, I think the number of men being forced to choose between a
> little shot in the nuts versus no sex will explode like Viagra. I
> just hope its true, and it happens.
> About Time.
> * The Sperminator *
> */ A new injection for men could shake up the world of contraceptives
> /*
> *
> <just 4
> percent of couples in Niger have access to birth control. Although the
> situation in this West African country is extreme, more than 125
> million couples worldwide — most of them in developing countries —
> cannot get contraceptives. Some of the children that have resulted
> from these couplings were wanted and some were not, but one thing is
> certain: Lack of access to birth control increases the burden on
> already strained parents and on the global ecosystem.
> Sujoy Guha, professor of biomedical engineering at the Indian
> Institute of Technology in Delhi, believes he has the answer to this
> problem. Highly regarded in India for his work on everything from
> disability rights to drinking-water purification, Guha has spent the
> last 25 years perfecting his invention, Reversible Inhibition of Sperm
> Under Guidance, better known (thankfully) as RISUG. RISUG, he says,
> has all the advantages of the perfect contraceptive — and, some would
> say, a surprising bonus: It’s made for /men./
> RISUG works by an injection into the vas, the vessel that serves as
> the exit ramp for sperm. The injection coats the vas with a clear
> polymer gel that has a negative and positive electric charge. Sperm
> cells also have a charge, so the differential charge from the gel
> ruptures the cell membrane as it passes through the vas, stopping the
> sperm in their tracks before they can even start their journey to the
> egg. RISUG doesn’t affect the surrounding tissues because they have no
> charge.
> Compared to the other male contraceptive choices currently available
> — abstinence, withdrawal, condoms, and vasectomies — RISUG is a
> whole new ballgame. In fact, Guha and others believe, the
> contraceptive promises to be even better than the choices available to
> women. Guha enumerates six advantages of his invention:
> * First, neither sexual partner has to interrupt the throes of
> passion to use it — no more running to the bathroom and fumbling
> with various ointments and plastics.
> * Second, the process, once it is refined and approved, will be
> completely non-surgical. /Whew,/ say a lot of men.
> * Third, it’s long-lasting. According to Guha, a single injection
> can be effective for at least 10 years.
> *
> Fourth, after testing RISUG on more than 250 volunteers, neither
> Guha nor other researchers in the field have found side effects
> more worrisome than a slight scrotal swelling in some men
> immediately following the injection. This swelling goes away after
> a few weeks. Compare that to the Pill, which even today can cause
> health problems ranging from severe migraines to blood clots.*
> <
> schulman081303.asp#toronto>, who says men’s attitudes toward
> contraception are changing. “In Canada, 10 years ago, it used to be
> tubal ligations [the more-invasive female equivalent of a vasectomy]
> to vasectomies were performed at a ratio of 2 to 1. Now that number is
> reversed.” Weiss believes a lot of men would prefer a procedure that
> wasn’t permanent. And, he says, RISUG is the most promising male
> contraceptive out there.
> Still, there’s been a lot more media fervor over the possibility of a
> male version of the Pill — even though its potential side effects for
> men include everything from liver damage and prostate problems to what
> is referred to in the literature as gynecomastia. Translation: Men
> growing breasts.
> Weiss thinks RISUG is preferable. “The only people who should be
> excited about the male Pill are pharmaceutical companies,” he said. He
> believes so much money has been poured into researching the Pill
> because pharmaceutical companies want something consumers will have to
> buy again and again — as opposed to an inexpensive, one-time
> injection. In the U.S., a decade of the female Pill costs about
> $3,600. RISUG would be dramatically less expensive, while
> pharmaceutical companies would have to pay $25 million to $40 million
> to bring it to market.
> But from the consumers’ point of view, RISUG could be a godsend during
> the approximately 30 years the average person spends trying not to
> cause a pregnancy. It would mean fewer women getting cancer from the
> Pill or having their uteruses perforated by an errant IUD. It would
> mean fewer men having to choose between the risk of a burst condom or
> the permanence of a vasectomy.
> And in the developing world, RISUG would mean much more.
> *This Little Injection Went to Market …*
> “Realize that overseas there just aren’t decent options,” said Elaine
> Lissner, director of the Male Contraception Information Project. “By
> the time condoms arrive there, they’re cracked by the heat. Poverty
> and lack of medical follow-up are a problem. You can’t use a diaphragm
> if you don’t have clean running water. You can’t use an IUD if no
> medical treatment exists if something goes wrong. You can’t use the
> Pill if it’s too expensive.”
> In the developing world, RISUG’s price tag could be brought down to
> about $22, the price at which Guha and Indian Drugs & Pharmaceuticals
> Ltd. (the largest Indian drug company) are planning to market it in
> India. This makes RISUG potentially affordable by even the world’s
> poorest.
> Studies have shown that when couples in the developing world start
> having fewer children, both the health and literacy of the children
> improve, and mothers are more likely to survive long enough to raise
> their kids. Moreover, families with fewer children have less impact on
> the natural world, because they are not as desperate for firewood,
> water, and bush meat.
> This “less children/healthier environment” connection has become so
> clear that wildlife organizations have started to team up with
> family-planning groups in biodiversity-rich areas of the world. In the
> Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve in Mexico, Conservation International
> is working with Mexfam to slow the clearing of the forests as well as
> to offer people there the option of reproductive health care.
> Inevitability, talk of providing contraceptives to people in
> developing countries raises allegations of racism — but there’s a
> huge difference between forced eugenics and offering people the choice
> to control their own fertility. According to Save the Children, 72
> percent of Sweden’s population has access to contraceptives; why
> shouldn’t the same choices be available in Niger? With the world’s
> population growing by 77 million people per year, access to
> contraceptives is not something the industrialized world can continue
> to hog.
> So far, what’s holding up the potential marketing of RISUG outside of
> India is safety testing. Although the Indian medical community
> maintains that its safety testing is better than that of the U.S.,
> Jeff Spieler, chief of research at USAID’s Office of Population and
> Reproductive Health, said, “The pre-clinical toxicology testing in
> India [on RISUG] was weak.”
> Lissner agreed that some of the older studies should be redone, but
> given the near-perfect record of RISUG so far, she noted, “If I were a
> man, I’d feel safer having RISUG injected than eating non-organic
> fruit.”
> RISUG will probably soon be marketed in India, but the U.S. will play
> a critical role in determining its use elsewhere in the developing
> world. Grants from U.S. agencies, corporations, and nonprofits spur on
> a significant portion of the world’s research. But, said Waller of the
> University of Illinois, “If funds from the U.S. are paying for another
> country’s research, then the research has to be already approved by
> the FDA. Otherwise it looks like we’re using the rest of the world as
> experimental subjects.” Thus, lack of interest in RISUG by the U.S.
> helps delay its use around the world.
> Meanwhile the developing world waits.
> As Lissner said, “Every month we delay means thousands more women
> dying in childbirth, more families in poverty from too many children,
> and more women dying in attempted abortions.”
> *[Correction, 14 Aug 2003: This article originally stated that birth
> control pills can cause ovarian cancer. In fact, studies show that the
> Pill can protect women against ovarian cancer.]
> *[Correction, 18 Aug 2003: This article originally stated Ronald Weiss
> is based in Toronto. He is based in Ottawa.]