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50 Years Ago

50 years ago, contraception options focused on women

Excerpt from the April 15, 1967 issue of Science News

7:00am, April 6, 2017

NONE SHALL PASS  Men’s birth control options haven’t changed much in 50 years. One potential option on the horizon is a gel injection that blocks sperm from traveling through the vas deferens, a duct in the male reproductive system.  

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The pill is a sledgehammer approach to contraception.... A second-generation of [drugs] is being designed to do the job without upsetting a woman’s normal cycle of ovulation and menstruation.... A contraceptive administered to the man can be given only for a short time without actually affecting the development of sperm … and, therefore, is not being considered for actual clinical use. —Science News, April 15, 1967


Contraceptives have come a long way since 1967. Women can choose low-dose pills, hormonal rings, implants and intrauterine devices — effective methods that can be less disruptive to normal menstrual cycles. Men have far fewer options, but that may eventually change. A long-acting gel injected into 16 adult male rhesus monkeys’ reproductive tracts completely prevented pregnancy in their partners over one to two breeding periods. The gel works like a vasectomy but is less invasive and can be reversed more easily, researchers report February 7 in Basic and Clinical Andrology.


A. Colagross-Schouten et al. The contraceptive efficacy of intravas injection of Vasalgel™ for adult male rhesus monkeys. Basic and Clinical Andrology. Published online February 7, 2017. doi: 10.1186/s12610-017-0048-9.

Further Reading

S. Schwartz. How to trap sperm. Science News Online, May 12, 2016.

T. Siegfried. Like birds of a feather, sperm flock together. Science News. Vol. 189, April 16, 2016, p. 12.

M. Rosen. Sperm protein may offer target for male contraceptive. Science News. Vol 188, October 31, 2015, p. 17.

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