New Contraceptive Wins Gates Money: Blasting Testicles w/Ultrasound

By Andrew Moseman | May 13, 2010 2:17 pm

sperm220We mentioned on Monday that Bill Gates was giving $300,000 to a geoengineering scheme that would shoot seawater skyward to seed clouds. But the billionaire doesn’t just wanted to save the planet and stop the AIDS crisis—he would also like to improve your sex life.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded 78 promising but offbeat projects this week, one of those gifts being $100,000 to James Tsuruta and Paul Dayton of the University of North Carolina to pursue their idea of using ultrasound as a temporary and reversible male contraceptive.

Ultrasound produces a mild heating that appears to disable sperm cells and deplete the supply of stem cells that are required to replenish sperm reserves in the testes. Post-treatment images of the rat testes showed the tubules inside the testes completely lacking in sperm with almost no immature stem cells [The Times].

The scientists have already tried the test on male rats, with promising results. With the Gates’ money and more success in animal trials, they could extend this to human tests by next year, Tsuruta says.

“Our long-term goal is to use ultrasound from therapeutic instruments that are commonly found in sports medicine or physical therapy clinics as an inexpensive, long-term, reversible male contraceptive suitable for use in developing to first world countries” [BBC News].

First, however, they have to fully understand the process. It’s not clear exactly how the mechanism works—we know sperm don’t like excessive heat, but the scientists say it could be heating and shaking working in combination. The Times says that tests have show no long-term damage to the cells that produce sperm. But that doesn’t mean men will line up for this treatment when and if it’s approved.

Allan Pacey, a senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield, said: “There is certainly a place for an effective non-hormonal contraceptive in men, but whether men would find it acceptable to have their testicles scanned regularly remains to be seen” [The Times].

Related Content:
80beats: Bill Gates Funds Seawater Cloud Seeding, “The Most Benign Form of Geoengineering”
80beats: With $4.5 Million of Pocket Change, Bill Gates Funds Geoengineering Research
80beats: Bill Gates Patents a Device Aimed at Halting Hurricanes
Discoblog: Warning All Male Competitive Cyclists: Less Than 5% of Your Sperm May Be Normal

Image: iStockphoto

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Technology
  • Brian Too

    OK, in order to make this a success, we’ll have to drop the whole “blasting testicles” phrasing…

  • Angela

    Brian Too, I agree! When I read this to my husband, he immediately grabbed himself and started shaking his head no. A better name is needed…

  • Elaine

    You can thank the BBC article for the “blast” terminology. Charming, huh. Actually, what this involves is the same kind of warming ultrasound that many have had at the physical therapist’s for injuries or muscle/joint pain (I’ve had it on a wrist injury, for example). It’s more of a massage. Which should be sounding a little better to the guys, especially depending on who’s applying it…

  • Tim

    How does heat shrinking sound? lol

  • linda

    Maybe Bill will go first!

  • MO

    I don’t think I want some old guy massaging me there for several minutes. Maybe if you could have it for home use.

  • rabidmob

    I approve of the fact that it is non-hormonal.

    However I didn’t understand what made the process reversible or non-permanent?

  • nick

    Hmm, what was that old saturday night live skit, something like “I wanna dip my BALLS in it.”

    Sign me up!

  • fatkid

    Kudos to Gates for doing something to offset his 10 thousand million dollars spent to increase the human blight on our depleted planet. Too bad it seems as effective as giving hot hand jobs to a locust swarm.

  • Richard D. Stacy

    At least someone is interested in other forms of contraception beside “The Pill”, that remains the ONLY form of available oral contraceptive. Anything to help to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the consequent abortions !

  • Herma Thoren

    Having sex daily can increase your chances of conception. For numerous guys out there, debunking this common myth may be cause for commotion (warning: would possibly lead to less sex). The truth is that conceiving is all regarding timing. Ordinarily, the best time to conceive is from the eleventh to the seventeenth day of a girl’s menstrual cycle. Since a man’s sperm can live for forty eight to 3 days in a very woman’s reproductive tract, having sex daily can thus do very little to boost fertility — a notion confirmed by a recent study that found no distinction in pregnancy rates between couples that had sex daily and those who had sex each alternative day. Another study suggests that daily sex could improve the standard of sperm, thus whereas it would possibly not increase your chances of conception, it might not hurt either.


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