“But nobody paid any attention to it,” said Elaine Lissner, director of the Male Contraception Information Project. “It sounded too strange to be true.”
Dr. David Sokal, scientist at FHI360 and research team member, said there was once hope for a male pill, but that the hormonal approach wasn’t going anywhere.
Researchers hope the ultrasound procedure would be effective for about six months.
“We would love to have men be able to go to the clinic two or three times a year for continuous contraception and not have to worry about forgetting anything,” Tsuruta said.
With Lissner’s help, the Parsemus Foundation funded the initial studies. Lissner is the director of medical research programs there.
Tsuruta led a research team that treated rats with the ultrasound. When they examined their sperm counts two days later, the sperm-producing cells were gone.
The UNC team received the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations grant, which funded the rest of the research. The ultimate goal is a global end to unwanted pregnancies.
“You don’t have to be a member of the pediatrics department to believe that every child that’s born should be wanted,” Tsuruta said.
Tsuruta said only 26 percent of men use a form of contraception.
“Lots of men don’t want surgery or don’t like condoms, so there’s lots of room in the market for a new method for men to use.”
A new form of contraception would allow men to have more control and responsibility in family planning, Lissner said.
“The original plan was that a guy could take his car to get an oil change every six months and go next door for an ultrasound.”
Tsuruta and his team will need to test the rats for a longer period and confirm that the sperm come back, are healthy and that the rats can produce healthy offspring.
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