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Reversible Male Contraception With Gold Nanorods 160

MTorrice writes "Men's options for birth control have significant downsides: Condoms are not as effective as hormonal methods for women, and vasectomies require surgery and are irreversible. Doctors and scientists have for decades searched for more effective and desirable male contraception techniques. Researchers in China now propose a nonsurgical, reversible, and low-cost method. They show that infrared laser light heats up gold nanorods injected into mice testes, leading to reduced fertility (abstract) in the animals."
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Reversible Male Contraception With Gold Nanorods

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  • Finally! I don't have to trust that ding-bat I picked up to remember to take her pill!

  • Non-surgical (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Optimal Cynic ( 2886377 ) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @10:00AM (#43972781)
    It might be non-surgical but a needle in the nads followed up by laser heating isn't my idea of fun.
    • Re:Non-surgical (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Grisstle ( 2798631 ) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @10:14AM (#43972993)
      Not to mention "decreased fertility" I don't want to decrease my fertility, I want to temporarily eliminate my fertility.
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        Unfortunately nothing does that. Even a vasectomy isn't 100% perfect and can fail to prevent pregnancy, and also sometimes fail to reverse.

        It sounds like this combined with the rhythm method would be ideal for a lot of couples. Condoms work for some people, but I find I either have next to no sensation with the normal ones or use the extra thin ones which are better but tend to break. Neither me nor my partner like them so use other methods.

        • Re:Non-surgical (Score:4, Informative)

          by reve_etrange ( 2377702 ) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @03:16PM (#43977141)

          Usually vasectomies or other occlusion methods lead to a build-up of sperm, which the immune system reacts against. The main reason vasectomies are generally irreversible.

          The best method I know about is RISUG [], which is another reversible male method employing an injection (into the vas deferens, not the testes). It lasts for 5 - 10 years depending on the size of the injection and has been nearly 100% effective in testing. There isn't much pharmaceutical interest in "cure" techniques (as opposed to "treatments") but there is a non-profit trying to make RISUG available in the US.

    • Yeah, I read this as needs in your balls. No thanks!

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by cayenne8 ( 626475 )

      It might be non-surgical but a needle in the nads followed up by laser heating isn't my idea of fun.


      And besides, it is the girls job to prevent pregnancy, after all, they are the ones that get knocked up. At least, that's the way it has pretty much always worked in the past.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        And hey, she can guarantee it by not sleeping with douchewads like you!
      • by dwye ( 1127395 )

        it is the girls job to prevent pregnancy, after all, they are the ones that get knocked up.

        Only if you make sure that she cannot identify you and hit you with a paternity suit (unlikely for Slashdot readers, but not impossible).

        One paternity suit lost can be expensive, even for NBA players, so it is in the interest of some men not to leave by-blows.

        • Only if you make sure that she cannot identify you and hit you with a paternity suit (unlikely for Slashdot readers, but not impossible).

          Well, let's put it this way.

          My idea of commitment, is telling her my real name.


    • I'm a fuckin' sadist.


      Did ya think I meant my 'nads?

      Nah ... Yours ...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @10:01AM (#43972805)

    Gives a whole new meaning to the term "money shot"...

  • by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @10:01AM (#43972811) Homepage

    Forgive me if I see "gold nanorods injected into my testes" as being a "significant downside" in and of itself. This coming from a guy who was snipped 10 years ago with non-working anesthetic.

    • Don't forget frying them with lasers before you get your sex on. And they say condoms are mood-killers.

    • by slim ( 1652 )

      In the immortal words of Ben Elton (before he lost his cool).

      "But I'm *sensitive* and I *love you*... so *please* stick a bit of barbed wire in your fanny"

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      If you'd had gold nanorods at least you'd have some bling now.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Just don't fall asleep on the laser-seat, or your balls cook from the inside out.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    CAPTCHA: toasted (for real)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    'testicular injection'
    I think i became infertile just by reading the article.

  • key word (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @10:03AM (#43972845)
    leading to reduced fertility
    That's not difficult at all. Diet, temperatures, radiation, hormone therapy, steroids, and apparently mountain dew can all do that. 100% stopping fertility is the hard part. This discovery is absolutely nothing. "Reduced" fertility is not good enough and never will be. "This sort of works" is not a good marketing strategy for contraceptives. In women you try to stop 1 cell from doing something. In men, you have to stop 100% of trillions. It's basically impossible.
    • ...and apparently mountain dew can all do that...

      Apparently not true [].

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      leading to reduced fertility

          In men, you have to stop 100% of trillions. It's basically impossible.

      Did anyone else just hear Carl Sagan, one hand on his crotch, saying 'Trillions and TRILLIONS..."

    • George Carlin's take on the marketing of unreliable contraception.

      I still miss that man's sense of humor...

  • Because having a laser shot at my balls is more desirable than anything I can think of.
  • by dargaud ( 518470 ) <> on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @10:05AM (#43972871) Homepage
    If a contraception method is 99.9% effective in its effect on procreative cells, for a female it means that out of the 500 eggs she may produce in her life, maybe one has a 50% chance to be fertilized (if taken at the right time, etc). Acceptable risk. For a male, it means that out of the 300 millions sperms contained in the average ejaculation, there will still be 300 thousand standing up in lines at Egg's door. That's one of the reasons why it's much more difficult to design a male contraceptive.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @10:55AM (#43973517)

      Out of 300 million, 2/3 come out dead or swim in circles. Out of those, maybe a few thousand make it through the cervix. Then maybe 100 or so make it into the fallopian tubes. If the egg popped out more than a day ago, it's no good, and if it's not there yet, the half life of those few sperm is about a day.

      So eliminating 99.9% from the start is pretty effective, given that a normal healthy couple only has about a 1 in 5 chance of conception in any month.

      Perspective on this changes a lot between being a teenager terrified of getting the girlfriend pregnant to being a late-30's married man, hoping baby #2 will come after spending years and big money on fertility treatments to get baby #1.

  • Heats up you say? Kills sperm AND sperm generating cells you say?

    So lets recap, acid reflux damage over and over increases cancer risk. There is evidence this is a contributing factor for smokers.

    Doing small amounts of damage in the testicles over and over.... where could the harm be there? I suspect they have not found anything that's going to make it to clinical trials.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Vasectomies aren't reversible? Since when?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Reversals seem to have a 95% success rate as well.

      • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @11:26AM (#43973951)

        BPAS cites the average pregnancy success rate of a vasectomy reversal is around 55% if performed within 10 years, and drops to 25% if performed over 10 years

        From the same article:

        BPAS cites the average pregnancy success rate of a vasectomy reversal is around 55% if performed within 10 years, and drops to 25% if performed over 10 years.

        95% successful at producing some viable sperm, but if its been >10 years only 25% effective at producing offspring.

        And its most successful reversal rate is within 3 years, which, quite frankly, why bother with surgery you plan to reverse in 3 years?!

        And ~that~ combined is what makes it impractical as effective male birth control. In an ideal world you get get one at 15 and then reliably reverse it at 25-30 when you want kids. But by that point you are well into 75% of it not working well enough to get anyone pregnant territory.

        Its great once you are -done- having children, but if you plan to have children in the future... not so much.

        • by dwye ( 1127395 )

          And its most successful reversal rate is within 3 years, which, quite frankly, why bother with surgery you plan to reverse in 3 years?!

          I rather expect that most short-term reversals are due to tragedies, not plans. You get a vasectomy after you and wife have all the children that you want, and then they all die within a year or two (as happened to a great-grandmother). Some people might just quit, but others will want to try again.

          • by vux984 ( 928602 )

            I rather expect that most short-term reversals are due to tragedies, not plans.

            Agreed. Or the marriage falls apart and your new partner wants to have kids too. I wasn't suggesting that situations for relatively short reversals don't ever arise.

            I was only suggesting that it would be a very strange route to deliberately plan to take.

            Its not to be treated as "birth control" -- it should be viewed as permanent "sterilization". That it can be reversed with a considerably more complicated and expensive surgery t

        • I've read that the mechanism of the irreversibility is that the immune system begins destroying the sperm, which can no longer exit the body. Makes sense given the timelines you quoted.

          The ideal method you're looking for is probably RISUG [], which has the qualities you seek - nearly 100% effective, lasts 5-10 years, totally reversible (with fertility restored in days - weeks). Also, an injection into the vas deferens sounds a lot better than one in the balls (to me anyway).

    • They can attempt to reverse a Vasectomy but it's not even remotely guaranteed to work. []

      Roughly 76% pregancy rate if the reversal is performed within 3 years of the original operation but successful pregancy rate drops off with the number of year bewteen the original Vasectomy and the reversal operation.
      • by cusco ( 717999 ) <> on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @11:27AM (#43973967)
        When I was 21 my girlfriend accidentally got pregnant, miscarried, and almost died. At that time vasectomy reversals were new, cost about $10,000-$15,000, and had a 70% success rate. My thought process was 1) technology only gets better, 2) if I couldn't afford $15,000 for a reversal then I certainly couldn't afford a kid, 3) I never wanted to go through another miscarriage, so I got a vasectomy. It also had the unintended effect of 4) I got laid a lot more often than guys who were still fertile.

        Six years later I went to get it reversed. The technology was now well-established, and microsurgery was becoming commonplace. It now cost $15,000-$25,000. The claimed success rate was still 70%. Both attempts were complete failures, as were over a dozen attempts at artificial insemination. It's been fifteen years now, and we no longer regret not having kids, but it took Rosa a long time to come to terms with our mutual infertility.

        TLDR; never, ever, assume a sterilization procedure is reversible.
        • Although they are more reversible now, I believe you need to have had a more recent one for it to be reversible. It's not just the improvement in reversing, but the improvement in doing one in a way that is reversible.
  • by Luciano Moretti ( 2887109 ) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @10:13AM (#43972981)
    Injection in the testicle? No thanks. I'll take the injection in the Vas Deferens of Vasalgel, thank you. That is also closer to commercial use (human trials scheduled for this year, release targeted 2015) and has over 10 years worth of human testing in India. It is also reversible (USA rabbit reversal trial in progress right now) with a single injection of baking soda & water.
    • I came here to say this too. I would much rather put a sperm-impenetrable barrier in my vas deferens (a vasectomy without the "snip-snip"), resulting in no fertility, than cook my balls with a laser, resulting in merely reduced fertility.
    • The original name of the technology is RISUG []. In case anyone feels that "citation needed" coming on.
  • Forgive the puerility, but... Hot golden rods?
  • If you experience Glowing Red Ball lasting more than four hours, seek medical help immediately as permanent injury may result.

  • by dnaumov ( 453672 ) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @10:28AM (#43973183)

    vasectomies require surgery and are irreversible

    FALSE. []

    • Close enough (Score:4, Informative)

      by sirwired ( 27582 ) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @11:10AM (#43973735)

      Vasectomy reversal is difficult, expensive, and only works about half the time. I think it's pretty clear that the summary was referring to something with reversibility as a design point, not a workaround...

    • I've had 3 reversals and only one worked long enough for me to have a son. I've spent 45k. In my experience the reversals always work initially, but close up over time. My last reversal I hired the best I could get. I should have done that at the beginning, but the doctor I had preform it the 1st & 2nd times said that it is waste for me to try a 3rd time.
  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @10:30AM (#43973207) Journal

    (from TFA):
    "In a lower hyperthermia treatment, the morphology of testes and seminiferous tubules is only partly injured, and fertility indices are decreased to 10% at day 7, then recovered to 50% at day 60. In a higher hyperthermia treatment, the morphology of testes and seminiferous tubules are totally destroyed, and fertility indices are decreased to 0 at day 7."

    In other words, the 'reversible' (or more accurately temporary suppression of fertility) process drops fertility down to 10%. As an actual birth control process, 10% fertility might as well be 90%.

    The elimination of fertility by this method - ie to 0% - seems to be irreversible.

    So the process is more accurately a method of male sterilization (for which it may indeed be valuable, if it's less invasive, less painful, etc. than vasectomy); the "contraceptive" role seems to be far less reliable than current methods by at least one, perhaps two orders of magnitude.

    Only by the most extreme hyperbole could this be called "reversible male contraception".

  • Magnetically actuated valves in the vas deferens, normally open or closed, your preference. Want to get the non-default state...strap some magnets onto your nads.

    Anyone with medical knowledge know how workable this is?

  • You're going to point a laser beam at my what?

    I think I hear my phone my car.....I'll be right back.
  • What could possibly go wrong... just sayin'...
  • Will "Nanorod" describe something men want associated with their junk?
  • Say you do convince Goldfinger to give your balls the Midas touch.
    Are there even enough laser mounted sharks to sizzle all the scrotes?

  • The real problem is that pharmaceutical companies don't think there is a market for male contraceptives. It has nothing to do with technologies. There have been many effective, reversible, non-invasive procedures in human trials for the past 30 years: []

    The issue is that "most men" think contraceptives are "unmanly" and will "never take them". At least that's what several doctors have personally told me when I was investigating contraceptive options. Nothing will move forw

    • No, you're right. That's why, when it comes to condoms, you only really hear about the female condom having any measure of success in the market.

      Men would never use male condoms. That's why condoms are a seldom-used form of contraception.

      But I can't help but ask... what the fuck are you smoking, and can I have some?

  • I thought this approach was proven years ago by Apple and their warmer-than-warm laptop machines. Plus I'd rather have a laptop in my lap than gold rods near my rod.... or something like that.

  • A quick Wikipedia query shows that you're wrong to classify a vasectomy as "irreversible". []

    Reversals are not 100% successful, cause a reduced potency rate and come at considerable expense (oh, yeah, and you still need to have someone slice up your junk ... twice!). So, you shouldn't get one with the plan to have it reversed someday, but they are not absolutely irreversible.

  • I'm not sure where you're getting your info from, but vasectomies are pretty benign other than the intended effect. They are easily reversible.

    I'm not saying I want to line up to get cut, but now they even do things to help ensure that it'll be easier to reverse in the future if you want. Its ridiculously short office visit to get it done.

    Last I heard, Goldschlager was not a good contraceptive, the opposite really.

  • So, a vasectomy isn't reversible? Then how come the hundreds of billboards I've seen off US Interstates over the last dozen or so years advertising exactly that haven't been taken down, and the advertisers put in jail for false advertising?


  • Okay first of all, Goldman Sachs will be thrilled about this!

    Anyway, many sci fi movies have already solved this problem. Blow up the moon! Technically, allegedly, that's a female contraceptive but whatever.
  • That's thinking with your dipstick Jimmy!
  • by reve_etrange ( 2377702 ) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @03:10PM (#43977069)

    There is already a long-standing, reversible male birth control method called RISUG []

    RISUG employs an injection into the vas deferens of a copolymer which can be removed at anytime via a second injection of bicarbonate solution. The copolymer is believed to hold a matrix of stable ions which rupture sperm as they pass the affected part of the vas deferens. Decades of testing have shown the method to be almost completely effective. Because the sperm still exit the body, no immune response to built-up sperm develops (the major reason vasectomies are generally irreversible). I know an injection sounds scary, but it's with high gauge needle and a local anesthetic, and one injection would provide 5 - 10 years of protection (depending on amount of material).

    Sounds a lot better (more effective, more reversible, less likely to have complications) to me than putting gold nanorods in your balls and heating them with a laser...

    • by kubajz ( 964091 )
      Unfortunately, accoring to the Wikipedia entry [], RISUG is an experimental method going through trials in India and struggling with the number of volunteers. As much as I'd love this method to be available, currently it is not and there have not been many news about it in the last couple of years.
      • It will be available in the United States from 2015 (hopefully) under the name Vasalgel []. A non-profit is conducting the trials and pushing development - RISUG is sort of a "cure," rather than a "treatment," so big pharma is not particularly interesting.

The trouble with money is it costs too much!