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Zap!

January 30, 2012

Torah Kachur

Men get decidedly queasy when you start talking about male contraception - the current options involve a little 'snip, snip' that is effective, simple and permanent.  But mention the idea of anything sharp near a man's balls and you are bound to get a cringe.  What about something warm and wet near his balls - a little more palatable? 

 

Research from the University of North Carolina suggests that ultrasonic vibrations applied to the testes had a measurable and reversible effect on reducing sperm count.  The research conducted by Tsuruta et al was published in Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology a few days ago and has reignited the idea that reversible sterilization of men is possible. 

 

sperm ultrasound Science in Seconds

 

Even better - the ultrasound device that was used in rats is a commercially available device that is used in physiotherapy clinics around the world.  The most effective treatment was two quick (15 minute) zaps over 2 days with 3MHz power applied to rat testes.  The rats didn't report any discomfort, mostly because they were anaesthetized and because rats can't talk.  But a previous study done 30 years ago in humans had patients reporting a 'warm, tingly feeling' during treatment.  Not bad, not bad at all.

 

Most importantly, sperm counts were reduced to below infertile in the rats as measured two weeks after treatment.  Future work is still required to determine how long the treatment lasts and the minimum effective dose but it's about time that men bear the burden of responsible birth control that goes beyond the crusty condom in their wallet.

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