When it comes to birth control, women have been getting shafted (!) for decades. In the realm of contraception, a disproportionately larger amount of choice for women hasn’t translated to gender equality. Au contraire: even though it takes two to do the baby-making tango, the options are such that it is largely a woman’s responsibility to make sure she doesn’t make like sauce and get Prego.
And while the relationship between patriarchy and science has proven a tough one to break, there’s a new kid on the block ready to sweep the medical establishment right off her feet. Here's the lowdown on the latest advancement in male birth control.
A real turn-on
Literally. The Bimek SLV (spermatic duct valve) was designed by German inventor Clemens Bimek to provide a less permanent option to your traditional snipitty-do-dah vasectomy. With the old-school method, the vas deferens (sperm duct), which connects the testes (sperm production HQ) to the seminal vesicles, is cut and tied at both ends. The only way back from a vasectomy is a reversal surgery, the success of which greatly depends on how long ago the original procedure was performed.
Bimek’s device is surgically implanted to transect the vas deferens, and it’s designed to be switched on and off from outside the body; thus giving new meaning to the idea of having a man by the balls. When turned on, the device prevents sperm in the testes from being introduced to the ejaculatory fluid in the seminal vesicles, so basically, you’re shooting blanks. Turned off, the device allows sperm from the testes to flow through the vas deferens and mix with the rest of the ejaculatory fluid before emission. Think of the Bimek SLV like a drawbridge for your balls.
I'm no doctor but...
Neither is Bimek. The inventor actually worked in construction. What seemed like a relatively practical contraceptive solution to him, was shunned by many of the experts and specialists he met with when developing his first prototype. Apparently male chauvinism runs deeper in the medical community than it does in construction, who knew? So after plenty of research and getting the green light from his local hospital's ethics committee, he did what any inventor would do and tried it on himself in 2009. Way to take one for the team, Bimek!
As a vegetarian, Bimek refused to do any animal testing. His cruelty-free approach is advertised on the Bimek SLV website as 100% vegan. And considering the Bimek SLV removes sperm from the ejaculate, you can insert your own joke about vegan blow jobs here: ____.
The surgery is less complicated than your relationship
Unlike most relationships, the Bimek SLV is for life and need not be removed or replaced after implantation. The surgery is an outpatient procedure performed under local anesthetic by a specially trained urologist, and it only takes about 30 minutes. An incision is made on the testes using an electric scalpel and is stitched up using absorbable thread. I can hear the collective gasp of male readers everywhere, but honestly, putting in a tampon sounds more gruesome. Man up.
The risks are pretty much the same as those of a vasectomy, and recovery is speedy. You can get back to all sorts of physical activity after a week. However, it’s worth noting that it may take 12 weeks or more for lingering sperm in the seminal vesicles to die off, which translates to 20-30 ejaculations to flush those littles guys out. I’m not great at math, but I feel like most men would be able to cut that waiting time down by at least a third.
Fingers and tubes crossed until 2018
The Bimek SLV is presently awaiting approval for a clinical trial. If all goes well, manufacturing could begin as early as 2018 for the European market. Just something to consider if you're planning your honeymoon abroad.
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Julia Reiss is a writer and stand-up comedian who, after writing this article, wishes she could travel back in time and re-take her eighth-grade Anatomy midterm. Follow her on Twitter: @thereisspiece.