While we’ve been busy discussing natural family planning, scientists have been busy messing with rats’ testicles in hopes of discovering entirely new methods of contraception.
A team of researchers from the University of North Carolina, while following up on a not-so- new concept, has learned that ultrasound waves, when directed at rats’ testicles, significantly reduce sperm count, in rats, to a level that, if rats were humans, would render them infertile.
The research team is funded by a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant. What they have found so far is that the ultrasound waves work best to reduce sperm counts to “sub-fertile” levels when given in two, 15-minute doses, two days apart and through warm salt water.
What they still don’t know is how long this reductive effect lasts and what would happen if this method were used repeatedly. Since this research is hoping to find new forms of contraception, not sterilization, answering the question about what the long-term effects might be is key.
Dr Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield, said: “It’s a nice idea, but a lot more work is needed.” He said that it was likely that there would be recovery of sperm production, but the “sperm might be damaged and any baby might be damaged” when sperm production resumed.
Even though this seems a long way off, and I would never want to discourage scientists from seeking a new form of male contraception, I cannot help but put my two cents in regarding the seemingly unrealistic nature of this contraceptive possibility.
What man is going to willingly allow his family jewels to be dipped in salt water then exposed to ultrasound rays for fifteen straight minutes, then come back again two days later to do it again? Secondly, this “procedure” requires a man would actually make an appointment to see a doctor or medical professional of some sort and, last I knew, getting men to see a doctor even when they are deathly ill is no easy task.
So even though this method may be called “male birth control,” in reality it could still place the burden on the female to get her man into the doctor’s office. I could see this form of male birth control leading to increased female nagging, and nagging, as we now know, can be hazardous to relationships.