The deferens is vas

If I were going to design a method of contraception, I would insist on the following:

  • No complicated daily regimen;
  • Infinitesimal failure rate;
  • No massive hormonal adjustments;
  • Effectiveness for a duration of years rather than hours;
  • No TV commercials reeking of imputed fertility.

Such a method, of course, already exists, and has for some time; it is not popular, however, because (1) it gets no television promotion and (2) men resist the idea of blades in the general vicinity of The Boys. Besides, it’s more or less permanent, and people do change their minds, so someone has come up with Vasectomy 2: Non-Surgical Boogaloo, which goes like this:

A doctor applies some local anesthetic, makes a small pinhole in the base of the scrotum, reaches in with a pair of very thin forceps, and pulls out the small white vas deferens tube. Then, the doctor injects the polymer gel (called Vasalgel here in the US), pushes the vas deferens back inside, repeats the process for the other vas deferens, puts a Band-Aid over the small hole, and the man is on his way.

This gel, incidentally, doesn’t do what you think it does:

The two common chemicals — styrene maleic anhydride and dimethyl sulfoxide — form a polymer that thickens over the next 72 hours, much like a pliable epoxy, but the purpose of these chemicals isn’t to harden and block the vas deferens. Instead, the polymer lines the wall of the vas deferens and allows sperm to flow freely down the middle (this prevents any pressure buildup), and because of the polymer’s pattern of negative/positive polarization, the sperm are torn apart through the polyelectrolytic effect [pdf]. On a molecular level, it’s what supervillains envision will happen when they stick the good guy between two huge magnets and flip the switch.

“No, Mr. Sperm, I expect you to die!”

Apparently there is no upgrade path from the, um, earlier version, which is just as well as far as I’m concerned.

(Via two hawt neighborhood women, both of who are spoken for, so don’t assume anything.)


  1. Tatyana »

    20 January 2013 · 8:16 pm

    Actually, all your requirements are satisfied with much less drastic contraption: IUD. Unfortunately, in this country it’s very rarely a woman can get one: “COSt: In U.S. about $500. In Europe postcoital IUD insertion costs just $25 (Belgium) or is covered by health plan” (from an university course on contraceptives @ Coursera).

  2. CGHill »

    20 January 2013 · 9:12 pm

    I paid about $400 for snippage thirty-odd years ago. (Insurance covered none of it.) I assume it’s probably tripled since then. I have no regrets, despite the fact that it’s been largely irrelevant for about half that time.

    The earliest IUDs had issues, though apparently they’ve largely been overcome by design improvements.

  3. Tatyana »

    21 January 2013 · 10:35 am

    Comparative advantage of IUD is that it’s not permanent. I suspect that relative rarity of it it here is determined not by supposed side effects issues (Europe has been using them for over 40 yrs), as for manufacturers it does not offer reliable continuing market (like hormonal pills). For a woman, it is much more cost-effective and more convenient: insert once, forget about pregnancy worries for 5 or even 10 yrs, if you wish. And at any time oyu can get to your ObGyn and remove it, no added hassle.

  4. CGHill »

    22 January 2013 · 5:55 pm

    That may be it: Big Pharma would rather you (or the taxpayers) shelled out several dollars a month for many years.

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