Every time I read an article about advances in the search for a safe and effective form of male contraception I ask myself the same question: why does this not yet exist? This time, the latest research centers around using ultrasound zaps delivered to the testicles to decrease sperm production. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding the research, which is an enhanced version of work done in the 70’s using the similar technology. The zaps are painless, inexpensive, and so far scientists believe they will be reversible. Of course, more research is necessary.
From the BBC:
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. “The last thing we want is a lingering damage to sperm,” he said.
This is all very important stuff and its always great that science is trying to move society forward, but technology that’s been in existence sine the 1970’s? Why has the scientific community dragged its feet on male contraceptives — an idea that makes so much sense — for so long?
I’d say for two reasons: lack of male interest and lack of female trust. There are many men who opt for vasectomies, but, especially with the prevalence of condoms, how many men do you know who are going around complaining that there is no birth control just for them? Birth control is traditionally seen as a woman’s responsibility (and pregnancy her problem) and until that changes I don’t see men lining up to have their testicles zapped. Furthermore, outside of serious relationships, I have a hard time believing that women will accept the “oh, it’s ok I got the zap” explanation from a guy, and even those who would accept it probably would not want to admit it.