Is ultrasound the future of male contraception?


January 30, 2012

Scientists have successfully reduced the sperm counts of male rats to zero using widely-available ultrasound equipment (Photo: Shutterstock)

Scientists have successfully reduced the sperm counts of male rats to zero using widely-available ultrasound equipment (Photo: Shutterstock)

Using commercially-available ultrasound technology, scientists have successfully reduced sperm count in rats to a level that would cause infertility in men. Researchers managed to reduce motile sperm to 3 million per cauda epididymis (where sperm are stored), which equates to a Sperm Count Index of zero, measured two weeks after treatment. The research could re-open the door to the investigation of ultrasonic techniques as a practical human contraceptive.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine utilized widely available ultrasound equipment used for physical therapy to expose the testes of anesthetized rates to ultrasound at a frequencies of 1 and 3 MHz at varying power densities, temperatures and durations. Ultrasound transducers were applied to the skin via a saline conductor.

Two 15-minute sessions spaced two days apart were found to be most effective, using a frequency of 3 MHz at a power density of 2.2 W/sq cm and a temperature of 37 degrees centigrade (98.6ºF). This permutation of variables resulted in a motile sperm count 1,000 times lower than the application of wet-heat alone - assessed two weeks after treatment.

The research takes its cues from 1970s work led by Mosfata S. Fahim into the effects of ultrasound upon the sperm levels of cats, dogs, monkeys and humans. The bespoke equipment used for the research was not available to the team at UNC.

This research, which received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is led by by Dr. James Tsuruta. The current findings were published today in the journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology.

It is not yet absolutely clear how long-lasting the effects of treatment are, nor if there are safety implications for repeated use. The end goal is to see if commercially available ultrasound equipment could provide a safe, viable and impermanent means of male contraception.

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life. All articles by James Holloway

Unmanned drones doing \"fly-overs\" emitting these waveforms, not heard, not felt, in areas of mass starvation, over-population? Iran - neutered? China with \"zero population growth\"? Weaponizing this phenomonon could have world altering results? Has this already started? Corporate controlled news controls by \"omission\"? Germany knows something, forbids all nuclear activity. What is it that has been, by omission, kept from American eyes? Oldsmobiles, seen any lately? Ever wonder why?

Bruce Miller

At 2W/sq cm you have nothing to worry about as far as drones go...there\'s no way they can deliver a beam with that much power over a wide area. As far as the results these boffins are claiming, it\'s just as effective, and more productive, to set a laptop computer on your crotch while you use it to drop sperm count (not a recommended pot-coitus method for the ladies). More seriously, if a contraceptive technique is not a barrier to STDs, most specifically HPV and HIV, research funding should be canceled since it encourages unprotected sex.


Back in the 1970s I worked a a company called \"Searl Ultrasonics\" in Santa Clara CA. We made ultrasonic scanning equipment. We had a unit at Stanford University. Someone had the great idea of \"Tea-bagging\" a beaker filled with warm saline then putting the transducer to the wall of the beaker. The research report that was issued to us made us laugh. The research paper said (and I quote) \"The use of ultrasonics in this manner not only reduced the sperm count but also caused the test subject to produce an abnormal amount of ejaculate and what seems to be a temporary sterility\" We also heard the this was not unpleasant for the test subject. (human??) One can only guess that it was done without being anesthetize After this, we started to call \"Searl Ultrasonics\"... \"Sterile Ultrasonics\" I would like to point out that a spin off company by the name of \"Diasonics\" was formed after Searl was sold. What we will have to worry about is.......What will happen if some fool gets his hands on a beaker large enough for a Sperm Whale?


\"...scientists have successfully reduced sperm count in rats...\" The surviving sperm turned into rats with a hearing loss and couldn\'t here the cat coming!


Wasn\'t it the same procedure, only using yodeling music instead of ultrasound, to make the attacking alien\'s heads explode in \"Mars Attacks\"? I wonder what the human immune system does with all those bits of dead sperm cells? Whenever they \"no say side effects\", then somebody hasn\'t looked long or hard enough.

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