Why Heating Up Your Balls Could Be The Future Of Contraception
Imagine a future where putting a magnetic ring around testicles was just as common as using a condom.
Researchers in this space have been working hard to see what that future could look like and are undertaking new trials on nanocontraception.
At the moment there are two contraceptive options for men, the first being condoms and second being vasectomies.
The issue with these are that condoms aren’t foolproof, as sometimes they break and some people are allergic to latex.
Vasectomies on the other hand are a medical procedure that can be expensive, invasive, and painful.
These limitations have opened the door to nanocontraception.
“Nanocontraception is basically the warming up of someone’s testicles, or an animal’s testicles, by sending nanoparticles, and these are particles that are smaller than the eye can see to the testicles, says Jeffrey Mo from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.
“By doing that, by warming up the testicles, you make them produce less sperm either completely shutting off sperm production, or just reducing it by a certain amount.”
Think of the testicles as the cooler room at the bottle shop; they sit outside of the body to stay at a cooler temperature, because if they get too hot sperm can become damaged or even die.
Now scientists have figured out that if there’s a way to control how hot testicles can get, then maybe it could be used as a potential contraceptive method.
“So this study was done by researchers in China and this study in particular, is on animal contraception, basically injected, nanoparticles made of iron oxide,” continues Mo.
“So it’s basically things that are magnetic, you inject those into the veins of mice, and then you direct them to the testicles, by putting a magnet around the testicles and by doing that the researchers found that the testicles shrank in size, and they produced less sperm.”
The researchers also found that by controlling how much the testicles were heated, sperm production could be stopped for a certain period or even forever — essentially castrating the mice.
The idea of putting a magnet down there and getting castrated is pretty scary, and currently we don’t know what the long-term effects of heating testicles could be or how it would work on human bodies.
Mo also noted that “it’s still a very long way from being ready to use in men but one of the reasons that the researchers believe it could work is that there aren’t very many contraceptive methods available to men just now”.
To get to the point where this is available over the counter, nanocontraception will need to undergo many more tests on primates and many other animals so there’s a long road ahead for this to become a common contraceptive option.
When asked if this could be the future of contraception Mo said, “I’m not sure if in our lifetime or in the near future, we can expect to see nanocontraception being used on men”.
“The idea of wrapping magnets around a man’s testicles, applying a magnetic field around those testicles and then also seeing one’s testicles shrink in size, even if that’s temporary, that might be too much for a lot of men. But in terms of animal populations they can do it right now for controlling pets”.
For now, nanocontraception looks like it could be a way to control all kinds of animal populations.
But researchers hope that one day this technology could be a form of contraception just as safe and common as using a condom.