Sperm on, sperm off

Australian scientists test remote-controlled reversible vasectomy.


Lynn Harris
January 30, 2008 3:41PM (UTC)

There's a new contraceptive method on the horizon for men, and it's basically the Nintendo Wii of birth control. Scientists down under, the New Scientist reports, are developing a radio-controlled silicone-polymer implant that could control the flow of sperm from ... down under. The gizmo is placed (via hypodermic needle sorry sorry sorry move along) inside the vas deferens, where it works like a valve. When closed, it blocks the flow of sperm -- but it can be opened with just, insert guy joke here, hardy-har, the click of a remote. Essentially, it's a nonsurgical, reversible vasectomy.

"It will be like turning a TV on and off with a remote control," said team founder Derek Abbott of the University of Adelaide, "except that the remote will probably be locked away in your local doctor's office to safeguard against accidental pregnancy or potential misuse of the device." The devices would be coded for security as well. (Still, this may represent a new target on the horizon for hackers.)

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Lots of testing still needs to happen; concerns remain about long-term clogging, which could shut the valve and leave the man infertile. Were it to reach the market, this method might be recommended only for men considering a full vasectomy in the first place, as opposed to McLovins who think it's keen (except for the part with the needle and the valve in their junk).

Meanwhile, testing continues on hormonal contraceptives for men, and research suggests that, contrary to stereotype, men are indeed open to using them. (Though not always for reasons that will get them laid. "I think it would empower men and deter some women out there from their nefarious plans," one man participating in a trial told MSNBC. "Some women are out there to use men to get pregnant. This could deter women from doing this. An athlete or a singer is someone who could be a target and they could put a stop to that.")


Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of BreakupGirl.net. She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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