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Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

A new contraceptive product is set to revolutionize birth control—for men. Called Vasalgel, or Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance (RISUG), the product is 100% effective, easily administered, long-lasting, has no side effects or any other health effects, does not require the man to remember to wear a condom every time he has sexual intercourse, is extraordinarily inexpensive, and is indeed 100% reversible (Clinkenbeard, 2012; Glass, 2012). Given the tremendous commercial demand for contraceptive measures to prevent unwanted pregnancy, RISUG will prove a highly sound, economical investment.

It is a contraceptive measure so efficacious that it almost seems to have been plucked from a flight of fancy. In a procedure that lasts a grand total of about fifteen minutes, a doctor first administers a local anesthetic to numb the scrotum. Next, the doctor makes a pinhole incision in the base of the scrotum, penetrates this with very thin forceps to pull out the vas deferens tube, administers the injection of Vasalgel/RISUG, does the same thing for the other vas deferens, and the process is complete. The procedure doesn’t even require stitches: a band-aid will suffice. And as if the whole thing was not too good to be true already, the procedure is so cheap that the polymer gel is actually less expensive than the needles used to administer the injection (Clinkenbeard, 2012; Glass, 2012).

The polymer gel works in a particularly interesting manner: rather than simply hardening to block the vas deferens, preventing sperm from emitting during intercourse, RISUG allows the sperm to pass. However, because the polymer gel has a negative/positive pattern of polarization, it unleashes the polyelectrolytic effect, which tears apart the sperm (Clinkenbeard, 2012; Guha, 2007, pp. 221-222; Kumar, Chaudhury, Sen, & Guha, 2007, p. 118; Lohiya et al., 2010, pp. 198-199). The quality of intercourse is therefore not compromised at all for any of the parties, and there is absolutely no danger of conception. It takes about three days after the RISUG procedure has been performed for it to begin to do its job, and once it is working, it will continue to operate effectively for at least 10 years or so. However, a man who changes his mind before those ten years are up is by no means stuck: he has but to return to his doctor, who will access his vas deferens in the same manner, but this time in order to inject a solution of water and baking soda. This solution functions as a kind of solvent, cleansing the walls of the vas deferens so that within two to three months they will pass ordinary, healthy, unaffected sperm. Currently in clinical trials in India, the procedure is expected to hit the market in 2015 (Clinkenbeard, 2012; Glass, 2012; Lohiya et al., 2010, pp. 198-199).

The above information demonstrates that RISUG is extraordinarily efficacious birth control for men. As seen, too, the procedure is extraordinarily easy and astonishingly cheap. There will be no shortage of supply for RISUG, either in terms of the polymer gel itself or the doctors who can carry out the procedure, but will there be demand for this medical procedure? One way to go about answering this question is to examine the market for contraceptive measures of different kinds. Since men will be the principal beneficiaries of RISUG, it only makes sense to start with an examination of the consumer demand for vasectomies, since RISUG is similar to vasectomies in terms of effect, and broadly similar in terms of procedure.

Marquette, Koonin, Antarsh, Gargiullo, and Smith (1995) found that 493,487 vasectomies were performed in the entire United States in 1991 (p. 644). Benderev (2013) explained that vasectomies are extremely popular, and gave a rate of about 600,000 annually in the United States alone (p. 1). Out of this figure, urologists conduct something like 85%, with the remaining 15% conducted by family practitioners (p. 1). The cost “ranges from $300 to $1,000 and is frequently covered by insurance plans” (p. 1). Although there are very few risks, the conventional vasectomy can be somewhat tricky to reverse: reversal operations are hit-or-miss at best (p. 8). Again, the advantages of RISUG are obvious: much cheaper, considerably easier, and far more reversible for those that change their minds.

Eisenberg and Lipshultz (2010) used data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth and estimated an annual rate of 175,000 to 354,000 vasectomies from 1998 to 2002 (pp. 2068-2072). However, they also found that during the same period, the annual rate at which tubal ligations were performed was 546,000 to 789,000 (pp. 2068-2072). To state the obvious, the rate of tubal ligations is of interest vis-à-vis the rate of vasectomies: although caution must be observed in evaluating these two variables against each other, the rate of tubal ligations shows a very high female demand for contraceptives other than birth control pills or condoms. This in turn has at least some ramifications for likely consumer demand for RISUG: after all, what woman in a committed relationship who does not want children (or additional children) is going to want to get a tubal ligation when her partner can simply get an inordinately cheap and essentially painless shot of a polymer gel?

That said, RISUG is such an improvement over the conventional vasectomy that it also invites comparisons with condoms. Yes, it is a surgical procedure necessitating a trip to the doctor, whilst condoms can be purchased at any supermarket or 7-11, but RISUG is so cheap and so easy, not to mention reversible, that is quite likely to diminish consumer demand for condoms. A young man can undergo an inexpensive fifteen-minute procedure that will render his need for condoms obsolete for ten years—save, of course, for the purposes of guarding against STDs.

What, then, is the market for condoms? The answer, as it turns out, is that it is very big indeed. The global market for condoms has been projected to hit 27 billion individual units a year by 2015, by which time the market will be worth about $6 billion (PR Web, 2013). In the United States alone, the market is worth about $450 million, with the average pack of condoms retailing at about $10.99 (Chiang, 2011; Neporent, 2011). In the United States, the average condom user is a young male, aged 18-24; all in all, men account for about 70% of the condom market (Neporent, 2011).

Now, to be fair, this enormous market for condoms is not going to disappear in the face of RISUG—but it will get smaller. In all likelihood, RISUG will appeal most to couples who do not want children, or more children, and to young men not in a committed relationship who can be reasonably confident nonetheless that they will have frequent sexual intercourse. Because it does not protect against STDs, for obvious reasons, it is likely that a good part of the condom market will remain—but there will still be plenty of market for RISUG.

All in all, the United States accounts for “more than half of the worldwide revenues in contraceptives”, and the market is growing worldwide, as seen (Segal, 2003, p. 136). However, this by no means indicates that extant products are satiating the market adequately, for there are still indications that consumers would welcome better products (p. 136). Segal drops the astonishing revelation that out of the approximately six million pregnancies a year that occur in the United States, over half are unplanned (p. 136). Out of all of these unintended pregnancies, half occur in the absence of any contraceptive measures, the other half despite attempts to use contraceptive measures, and the story is startlingly similar internationally (p. 136).

In conclusion, RISUG is an exciting new medical product that constitutes the ideal birth control for men, by virtue of its ease of administration, its 100% efficacy, its durability, its inexpensiveness, and its reversibility. Supply will prove no problem at all: as it is, general practitioners perform some vasectomies, and this is much easier than a vasectomy. Nor will there be any shortage of demand, given the enormous market for contraceptive devices, from vasectomies and tubal ligations to condoms.

References

Benderev, T. V. (2013). Vasectomy. eMedicine Health. Retrieved from http://www.emedicinehealth.com/

Chiang, O. (2011, January 07). Trojan: US market size for vibrators $1 billion, twice the condom market size. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/

Clinkenbeard, J. (2012, March 26). The best birth control in the world is for men. Techcitement. Retrieved from http://techcitement.com/

Eisenberg, M. L., & Lipshultz, L. I. (2010). Estimating the number of vasectomies performed annually in the United States: Data from the National Survey of Family Growth. Pub Med. Doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2010.06.117

Glass, Jeremy. (2012, April 5). New male birth control shot is 100% effective and lasts ten years. Nerve. Retrieved from http://www.nerve.com/

Guha, S. (2007). Biophysical mechanism-mediated time-dependent effect on sperm of human and monkey vas implanted polyectrolyte contraceptive. Asian Journal of Andrology, 9(2), pp. 221-227. DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-7262.2007.00244.x

Kumar, S., Chaudhury, K., Sen, P., & Guha, S. K. (2007). Quantitative analysis of surface micro-roughness alterations in human spermatozoa using atomic force microscopy. Journal of Microscopy, 227(2), pp. 118-123. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/

Lohiya, N. K., et al. (2010). Sperm characteristics and teratology in rats following vas deferens occlusion with RISUG and its reversal. International Journal of Andrology, 33(1), pp. 198-206. DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-7262.2007.00244.x

Marquette, C. M., Koonin, L. M., Antarsh, L., Gargiullo, P. M., & Smith, J. C. (1995). Vasectomy in the United States, 1991. The American Journal of Public Health, 85(5), pp. 644-649. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/

Neporent, L. (2011, February 14). 7 facts about condoms. ABC News. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/

PR Web. (2013, July 21). Global condoms market to reach 27 billion units and $6.0 billion by 2015, according to new reports by Global Industry Analysts, Inc. PR Web. Retrieved from http://www.prweb.com/

Segal, S. J. (2003). Under the Banyan tree: A population scientist’s odyssey. New York: Oxford University Press.

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