There aren’t many options for long-term birth control for men—other than a vasectomy (which can fail) the only solutions seemed to be RISUG (Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance, or Vasalgel) which lasts ten years. A male birth control pill doesn’t seem to be nearing on the horizon, so for now men must use condoms or other “barrier” methods.
Thanks to German inventor Clemens Bimek, controlling male fertility may soon come as easily as flicking a switch inside the scrotum. His invention, the Bimek SLV, is a valve attached to the spermatic duct that regulates sperm cells’ flow. Patented back in 2000, the device is slated to undergo clinical trials beginning this year.
According to Bimek SLV, after a medical examination determines the potential recipient’s eligibility, only an outpatient surgery—lasting about half an hour—is required to implant the valve. It’s about the size of a gummy bear, and made almost entirely out of PEEK Optima, an implant material proven to be biocompatible and durable.
Operation involves a rocker switch to be turned on and off, which can be controlled trough the scrotum skin. And don’t worry, Bimek SLV provides answers to all sexual inquiries regarding the device’s implantation, and because I know you’re going to ask:
- Its efficacy is about that of a vasectomy (0.1 on the pearl index.)
- It shouldn’t impact the ability to gain and maintain an erection—if anything, the certainty should make it easier. Any issues with ED are best discussed with your partner or doctor.
- Ejaculation should be normal. All that would change is a five percent reduction in ejaculatory fluid. (I doubt anyone would notice that.) Orgasm should also be achieved normally.
- The SLV doesn’t protect against STDs—you’ll still need a condom for that.
- The valve’s design enables sperm to exit the side of the spermatic duct when it’s closed, so semen blockage won’t occur. Sperm cells that “leak” from the valve are broken down by the immune system.
- A security measure makes sure that the switch can’t open on its own.
- Once the user decides to switch off his sperm flow, sperm remains present in ejaculatory fluid for about three months, or 30 ejaculations. A visit to a urologist is recommended after the grace period has ended to ensure that all sperm have left the building. Opening it is a different story: the company claims it is a safe assumption that the first ejaculation after opening the valve will contain sperm. There’s also apparently very little recovery time—only one day, according to Bimek SLV. However, men are encouraged to wait one week before resuming physical activity, including sex.
A valve that blocks sperm flow seems like a long-overdue invention; the concept is so simple. Granted, men might not be so eager to go under the knife when other birth control methods would be sufficient; but this is the first invention of its kind that gives men the ability to control whether or not they are fertile. It can benefit single and married men alike in either protection or the decision to start a family.