Could a cocktail have inspired the newest form of birth control? It sounds silly, but the methodology holds up.
Male birth control has been the subject of rigorous research the past several years. As the idea of men sharing responsibility in preventing unwanted pregnancies gains traction, new possibilities have opened up.
Now researchers from China have turned to a unique source of inspiration. Using a similar concept to a layered cocktail drink, they believe they've found a safe and easily reversible form of contraception.
The idea comes out of layered mixed drinks, where each addition rests on top of the other liquids in the glass. The ingredients only mix when vigorously stirred or heated. It's that second one that intrigued researchers.
The method discussed in the study injects four reagents in order to physically clog the vas deferens, blocking sperm from entering the semen. Depending on more research, the block can last anywhere from a few weeks, to a few months.
If in that time, the subject wants to reverse the process, a short, non-invasive blast of infrared light heats the injection and causes the reagents to mix and exit the vas deferens.
Sounds like it'd be easier to just get drunk.
Tested in mice, the method prevented females from becoming pregnant for two months. Scientists hope this would fill a gap of medium length contraception.
There are questions about this study, though. Catherine VandeVoort, director of reproductive endocrinology at the California National Primate Research Center has performed similar experiments on rhesus monkeys for a contraceptive called Vasagel.
VandeVoort points out that the study is non-specific on why the block failed after two months, or potentially sooner in other test subjects. Additionally, there's no mention of how many rats were tested.
VandeVoort was quoted as saying,
"More options for contraception is a really good thing. This needs more work, but that's what happens when you do the first study."
Leave it to the internet to find their own ideas about male birth control.
Many new forms of birth control for males are being studied. The US National Institutes of Health announced toward the end of last year a birth control gel they were developing.
The government agency said they were moving forward to clinical trials for a gel that is rubbed into the shoulders and back of the subject, hitting them with a dose of progestin and testosterone. Together, they allow a reduction in sperm count without a loss in sex drive.
The ongoing tests are determining how long it takes for the gel to reach maximum potency, and what potential long term effects are for the subjects.
If it works, it'll not only be a very non-invasive form of daily birth control, but potentially a very forgiving one. Scientists estimate a user may have up to 72 hours to reapply the treatment before it starts losing effectiveness.