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Commonly abbreviated as RISUG (pronounced "RICE-ugh"), reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance, is a safe, long-term, reversible, non-hormonal method of male birth control in which a copolymer of Styrene malic anhyrdride (SMA) with Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is injected into the vas deferens. The copolymer forms a matrix across the vas which allows sperms to pass, but which carries electric charge which ruptures the acrosomal membrane of the sperms, rendering them immotile. RISUG has two main advantages over classical occlusion methods: first, it is easily reversible, requiring only an injection of DMSO or a sodium bicarbonate solution to dissolve the SMA matrix, and it does not cause an immune response against sperm prevented from leaving the body (and thereby does not prevent the production of viable sperm after the reversal of the procedure). Second, RISUG is almost entirely noninvasive-the procedure involves a small injection and is effective within hours. Like traditional occlusion methods, RISUG is 100% effective, Furthermore, RISUG is safe; in eleven years of human testing, RISUG has caused no long term side effects {2}.

Unlike hormonal methods of birth control, which affect the basic chemical processes in our bodies, RISUG has no potential to affect human behavior. And, unlike condoms, RISUG has the convenience of not requiring any specific preparation prior to sex. RISUG has great potential, especially in the United States of America, where there is a (false) stereotype that men do not wish to (or are unable to) take responsibility for sex. Currently, the only available male birth control technique is the condom, which is inadequate in success rate (it has a 15% failure rate for what Planned Parenthood calls "typical use"), convenience and, many feel, intimacy{3}. Hormonal techniques may prove effective {4}, but many would never use a male version of the birth control pill: many men simply do not want to subject their bodies to artificial versions of our own hormones-chemicals that affect us in extremely basic and powerful ways.

Not only would RISUG give men a safe, reliable, convenient method of birth control, so that we might share responsibility for sex with our lovers, but it would allow women in relationships with men to, if they desire, discontinue the use of birth control pills which may adversely affect their health and or behavior (for example, many women are thrown into heavy depression by most or all birth control pills).

Currently, RISUG is in Phase III testing in India (where the government is always in favor of more and better birth control techniques). With luck, RISUG will soon by publicly available there {1}.

RISUG may never be available in the United States, however. It does not pass Western standards for pharmaceuticals, in that it isn't sufficiently profitable. Women spend thousands of dollars a year on birth control. Men might pay $500 for an injection of RISUG which would last for ten years {1}. Furthermore, it would require a large investment of money and time to perform the testing required for FDA approval. A company that wanted to finance the testing of RISUG in the United States would be taking a substantial risk-the drug might not recoup expenditures fast enough to warrant the spending. That something as beneficial to the public good as RISUG may be overlooked in America because it isn't profitable is a sure sign that pure capitalism is not a good system to run a country with (yes, I am well aware that the US has a mixed economy).

Sources:
1. Methods - vas devices - RISUG. www.malecontraceptives.org
2. United States Patent: 5,488,075; Contraceptive for use by a male. www.uspto.gov Patent Database
3. Planned Parenthood - The Condom. www.ppfa.org/bc/condom.htm
4. Planned Parenthood - The Future of Birth Control. www.ppfa.org/ARTICLES/bcfuture.html

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