Rejoice, men committed to not getting their partners pregnant: Soon, you might get to enjoy the responsibility of ensuring you’re using contraception.

Next year government researchers in the U.S. will test a snazzy new method of birth control method for men – a gel you rub on like lotion to prevent the production of sperm.

No, you don’t rub it directly on your balls. Instead you massage the gel into your arms and shoulders to let it absorb into your skin, reach your bloodstream, and use two synthetic hormone, testosterone and progestin, to block the testes from making enough testosterone to produce normal levels of sperm.

The synthetic tesosterone in the gel will balance out any hormone discrepancies, meaning there shouldn’t be any dodgy side-effects.

Don’t get too excited about the prospect of rubbing yourself with gel just yet, though.

It’ll be a long time before the gel is available to everyone. The clinical trial needed to ensure the gel is a valid form of contraception will start in April and run for four years.

400 couples will participate in the study, with men asked to take home a pump bottle of the gel and rub around half a teaspoon of it on to their upper arms and shoulders every day.

That every day bit is important. The gel can suppress sperm levels for around 72 hours, so a couple of missed days will have an effect. One of the major concerns about launching the gel is whether men will remember to use it every day.

The trial will see the men using the gel while their partners also use some form of female contraception (just in case).

Researchers will track the men’s sperm levels to see if they drop to less than one million per ml of semen – the level required to effectively prevent pregnancy.

Once the men’s sperm count is low enough, the women will come off their contraceptives and the couples will use the gel as their only form of birth control of a year.

If it all goes well, the gel will go ahead and be launched to the general public… in a few extra years time. It’s better to be safe than unintentionally pregnant, right?

An initial six month study all went well, so it seems likely that this longer research will pay off.

In the six month trial, the sperm count for 89% of the men was reduced to less than one million sperm per ml, and there was a complete absence of sperm production for 78% of men.

The gel being trialed at this time involved two different gels that had to be rubbed to different parts of the body – researchers have now combined the two to see if that makes things easier and more reliable.

Of course, it’s important to note that the gel will not protect from STIs, only pregnancy, so it won’t (or shouldn’t) eradicate condoms.

Think of it as an option for couples who have regular sexual health checks and don’t fancy getting pregnant at the moment.

The gel could be incredibly handy for women who can’t take hormonal contraception for medical reasons, or for any men who want to do their bit to take on contraception.

Read more: