Just this week, we were talking about the massive societal implications of a male version of the pill. “Even if just 5-10% of men used [an oral contraceptive], it would limit population growth,” Ilpo Huhtaniemi, emeritus professor of Reproductive Endocrinology at Imperial College London, told CNN. “There has to be something for men to take responsibility in the same way as women.”
Now, it looks as though men may be able to take responsibility. . . literally with the flip of a switch.
If used successfully, the Bimek SLV — a device “as small as a gummy bear,” according to the official site — may be able to control a man’s sperm flow through a valve that can be opened and closed with a switch. After the device, which is 100% vegan, is implanted in the vas deferens, the switch can be accessed through the skin of the scrotum.
When the valve is closed, the sperm cells are diverted by being pushed sideways, rendering a man infertile when he ejaculates — essentially, a vasectomy, but instead of the long, complicated, and arduous reversal surgery (that can often hold no promises and still render a man permanently infertile), it’s just a click that can be done at home, doctor-free.
In other words? “A man will have it in his scrotum. It basically looks like a light switch,” German carpenter Clemens Bimek told As It Happens guest host Helen Mann.
Bimek got the idea for the device 20 years ago, according to Spiegel — and it’s been a long road. “Many doctors that I have consulted, have not taken me seriously,” Bimek told Spiegel. “But there were also some who have encouraged me to continue to tinker and who have supported me with knowledge.”
However, spokesman for the Professional Association of German Urologists Wolfgang Bühmann doubts the device. He told Bimek that he believes the device will cause scarring, which won’t render it as reversible as he had hoped. He also believes that there’s danger in leaving the valve closed for too long, as it could become clogged.
So far, Bimek is the only one who has had the procedure done — which takes a mere 30 minutes — and head of marketing for Bimek SLV Philipp Renger told Mann that it didn’t exactly go as planned at first. “When it was implanted he found that it was difficult to open and close it,” he said.
However, after various redesigns and follow-up surgeries, Renger said, “it sounds terrible. . . but it worked really well.”
This year, Bimek and the company hopes to install the device on 25 men, and by 2018 they hope to have a final product ready. It’s obvious that this product needs several years, if not a decade, before it hits the market; however, if and when it does, it could completely revolutionize the way we think about birth control. Check out the video below and see how it works.
(Image via video.)