A Thank-You Letter to the Packard Foundation

Vasalgel Packard Foundation
Vasalgel Packard Foundation

Have you heard of Vasalgel? It’s a new contraceptive technology for men that’s recently been making news rounds at The GuardianThe Daily MailThe Daily BeastThe New York Times, and others. The short version is that Vasalgel is a safe, non-invasive, non-hormonal, and completely reversible form of male contraception. And if you don’t believe me, read the long version here.

I’ve been following Vasalgel’s progress for a few years and I’ve been excited to see their project gaining traction. In their most recent progress update, they announced a new grant award from the Packard Foundation and asked subscribers to send thank-you letters to the foundation for their support of Vasalgel. Normally I wouldn’t do this, but male contraception has a huge uphill battle to fight. So I wrote a thank-you letter (printed, stamped; real old-school) to the foundation’s director of population and reproductive health, Tamara Kreinin (The David & Lucile Packard Foundation 343 Second Street Los Altos, CA 94022), and I’d like to share the letter with you now (below).

Male contraception’s uphill battle starts in the social thickets. Here are your alpha males who think the penis does as the penis does and, hey, if a baby’s made, not my fault. And here are your pee-shy policy makers who prefer to defer all questions of reproduction to women (while at the same time doing an excellent job inhibiting women’s reproductive rights). And here are your political pedants who’d rather spend billions on chemicals and laws to curb ovulation than on finding a way to turn sperm ‘off’ for a while, which conceptually seems like it’d be far more simple. But what fun is birth control if it’s not increasing cancer risks, causing permanent reproductive damage, and upsetting psychological balances? Especially if it happens to women and not me in my Ford F-450 on my way to the gun range where I can compare calibers with my bros.

This is why I support Vasalgel and will do what I can to bring this product to market. Other dudes—those who have hetero sex and those who don’t—should do the same.

Here’s the letter:

Dear Ms. Kreinin,

I’m writing to thank you and the Packard Foundation for your recent gift to Vasalgel. As a proponent of reproductive rights, I’ve been following Vasalgel’s progress for a number of years and it’s incredibly exciting to see their project gaining steam.

In Vasalgel’s mailing list update from November 5th, they announced their grant award from the Packard Foundation and invited mailing list subscribers to thank you personally. Because of the positive life changes Vasalgel promises to deliver, I’ve become a vocal supporter of their project to provide a new, safe form of birth control and destigmatize male reproductive rights. And as a potential future user of their technology, I want to do everything I can to help bring their product to market. If that starts with a simple thank you, count me in.

I’ve been married almost five years and birth control is always a concern, especially due to the financial stresses that would materialize if we were to unexpectedly conceive. I hated seeing the damage ‘the pill’ was having on my wife—from severe mood fluctuations to loss of sexual appetite—and as we all know, condoms are a bummer. She’s since switched to an IUD which has so far been effective, though we’ve had countless conversations over the years ending with a depressed wish that there existed a simple, effective male birth control solution. When I first heard of Vasalgel, I wanted to know where to sign.

It has been really exciting watching Vasalgel’s success in the lab. With continued financial support from organizations such as yours, Vasalgel will be able to continue cutting through the red tape and bring their product to market. And I’ll be standing first in line, looking forward to worry-free birth control a new era of reproductive rights. The Packard Foundation benefits, and so does humanity. It’s a win-win. Sex needs only chemistry, not chemicals.


With Gratitude,

Benjamin van Loon
Writer, Marketer, Married Guy

By Ben van Loon

Writer, Researcher, Chicagoan

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