Putting the heat on birth control

2 minute read

Could this be a genuine option for foiling a fellow’s fertility?

The quest for an effective male contraceptive – one that doesn’t involve latex or the surgeon’s scalpel – has so far been a long and not particularly fruitful journey.

While talk of a male “pill” has been bandied about for decades, the reality of such a breakthrough simply never seems to eventuate.

Could it be that the safe-bonking boffins have been barking up the wrong tree?

Maybe, if new research from a team of Chinese scientists is anything to go by.

According to a study published this month in the journal Nano Letters, the answer to creating a safe, temporary male infertility could lie could in magnets.

By injecting mice with magnetic nanomaterials, the researchers were able to use other magnets to guide the particles to the rodents’ testes, and then use yet another magnetic field to heat those particles up.

In mice and men, warmed-up male gonads are counterproductive in the fertility stakes.

The nanoparticles heated the testes to 40C, shrinking them and inhibiting spermatogenesis before gradual recovery 30 to 60 days after treatment, the researchers said in a media release.

The mice couldn’t father any pups seven days after treatment, but they were back to fathering about 12 pups per pregnant female at day 60, they said.

While 40C might sound a tad warm in the gentleman’s department, the scientists maintain while the heat would be noticeable, it was certainly safe, making it a potentially viable male contraceptive option down the track.

Given the process is designed to be temporary and the non-toxic biodegradable nanomaterials vanish over time, we can see the attraction.

If you see something that makes you tingle, send it to felicity@medicalrepublic.com.au.

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