RISUG: Does Sujoy Guha's Male Birth Control Work? (Video)
RISUG: 10-Year Contraception Procedure for Men
RISUG (Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance) is a contraception procedure designed for men, in which a chemical compound is injected into the vas deferens to kill sperm as they... commute. The advantage of a procedure like RISUG over a vasectomy is obvious: nothing gets snipped.
RISUG was developed by Dr. Sujoy Guha, professor emertius at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), without funding from major pharmaceutical companies. This isn't too surprising, since the polymer gel used in the procedure is cheap, and only gets used once per patient every ten years: not a recipe for big bucks.
Sujoy Guha received a $100,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation... to pursue a variation of RISUG for women.
Interest in RISUG is resurging, though claims that RISUG can prevent the spread of HIV is debatable: seminal fluid still flows freely through the coated vas deferens; it's just that the the sperm are not intact after passing the polymer gel-coated section. RISUG is being tested a contraceptive, and not as a prophylactic against sexually-transmitted diseases.
(The Parsemus Foundation is developing a polymer gel under the name Vasalgel, which is still in the early stages of testing.)
Does RISUG Work?
Yes, RISUG works in phase III clinical trials, although the test group has been very small: 250 participants. Guha has been working on RISUG for around 25 years, and human trials have been underway since 2002. So far, Guha claims a nearly 100% success rate, with only one unplanned pregnancy among participants. That pregnancy was blamed on an improper administration of the RISUG procedure. Also, no notable side effects have been reported beyond temporary scrotal swelling (ouch).
RISUG is billed as reversible, but, in practice, the actual reversibility of the procedure is not nearly as reliable as you might like. The baking-soda solution flush (which is basically what the reversal procedure is) has only been partially effective in animal trials, and has not yet made it to human trials.
If the research pans out, RISUG would represent the biggest advance in male birth control since a clever Polish entrepreneur dipped a phallic mold into liquid rubber and invented the modern condom. “It holds tremendous promise,” says Ronald Weiss, a leading Canadian vasectomy surgeon and a member of a World Health Organization team that visited India to look into RISUG. “If we can prove that RISUG is safe and effective and reversible, there is no reason why anybody would have a vasectomy.”
There's a video of the RISUG procedure below. Warning: video contains jank.