Let’s be clear from the start: this study was carried out on mice and not on humans. But the idea is that this contraceptive method could one day be used on humans too. Chinese researchers have developed a temporary and reversible male contraceptive method that heats the testicles to disturb spermatogenesis. Temperatures above 35°C have been shown to reduce sperm production (which is why the testicles are outside the body). Previous research has therefore focused on injecting metal nanoparticles into the testicles, which can then be heated by a magnetic field. The only problem is that injecting this area is quite painful, not to mention that the heat can damage the skin.
Weihua Ding and her colleagues at the Nantong Institute of Reproduction, therefore, came up with the idea of using magnetization to guide these nanoparticles into the testicle. Iron oxide nanoparticles coated with citric acid were injected into the bloodstream of male mice in repeated doses over two days. The researchers then magnetically guided the nanoparticles to the testes and applied an alternating magnetic field for 15 minutes to heat the particles. “The nanoparticles heated the testes to a temperature of 40°C and inhibited spermatogenesis for seven days after treatment,” the researchers stated in a study, published in the journal Nano Letters.
The authors noted that the nanoparticles are non-toxic and are gradually eliminated by the body. Thirty to sixty days after treatment, male mice were able to reproduce again. “This opens up new possibilities for the use of contraceptives,” they add. Despite intensive research in this area, no reliable male contraceptive pill has yet been approved for usage.
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