Getting ‘the snip’ could become a thing of the past as scientists say a contraceptive jab that lasts ten years could soon be available for men.
The jab – called Risug – could be ready within 12 months.
Developed by researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, the injection has completed its final trials.
It is considered better than a vasectomy as it would be less painful, and is also reversible.
But UK researchers looking at how likely the jab is to be accepted in this country said many men may be hesitant.
The male contraceptive jab would be less painful than a vasectomy, scientists say, but men proved to be very reluctant to get the injection
Dr Amanda Wilson, a public health psychologist at De Montfort University, told the British Science Festival in Leicester that research had found men were very reluctant to have the jab.
She said that the trend for men to have vasectomies is declining, and that hesitancy about the injection may reflect this. Dr Wilson said: ‘For a male pill, we’re still looking at between 30 and 50 years, but Risug is the male contraceptive that is closest to reaching the market. However, we’re seeing a significant decrease in vasectomies.’
She told The Sunday Telegraph: ‘Scientists don’t know why. But until we get that social acceptability of vasectomy up globally, there’s not going to be as much social acceptability for Risug.’
Risug is a gel which damages the tails of individual sperm cells, preventing them from fertilising an egg.
The procedure can be reversed with an injection of water and baking soda. However, sterilisation procedures in general for both men and women have fallen in recent years.
In 2010-11 there were 19,510 vasectomies carried out in NHS hospitals, which by 2020-21 had fallen to 4,486 – a 77 per cent fall.
Sterilisations of women in NHS hospitals have also fallen, from 15,189 in 2010-11 to 7,665 in 2020-21 – a 50 per cent decline.
The makers of Risug, which stands for Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance, say the jab allows men to be more spontaneous than when using condoms.
The contraceptive uses a polymer called styrene maleic anhydride which coats the sperm duct. The chemical was originally used to coat pipes in rural water systems in India, where it was found to kill bacteria.
Risug allows men to be more spontaneous than when using condoms, researchers said
Tests in rabbits, rats and monkeys showed that it had a similar effect on sperm. Risug has completed several clinical trials on human subjects in India and is awaiting approval from the medical authorities there.
In the United States, a male contraceptive called Vasalgel, which works in a similar way, is in development.
Dr Wilson said: ‘I think women would find it a real benefit if they don’t have to worry about their partner taking a pill. It’s a little bit more peace of mind.’
An advantage of the jab is that it is not based on hormones. Attempts to develop a male contraceptive pill based on sex hormones have suffered problems in the past, due to side effects in men including acne and mood changes – both common side effects in pills for women.