Study: Ultrasound halts sperm

The latest prospect in male contraception: blasting your reproductive organs with ultrasound to halt sperm production. Experiments on rats using the technique dropped sperm counts to 10m sperm per milliliter; under 15m sperm per milliliter is considered infertile in humans.

The results were published in the journal of Reproductive Biology and Edocrinology. Andrologists warn that much more work is needed to rule out the possibility of damaged, rather than dead sperm. From the BBC:

Lead researcher Dr James Tsuruta said: "Further studies are required to determine how long the contraceptive effect lasts and if it is safe to use multiple times." The team needs to ensure that the ultrasound produces a reversible effect, contraception not sterilisation, as well as investigate whether there would be cumulative damage from repeated doses.

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.

In the meantime, I understand that blasting Nickelback is also an effective contraceptive.

Testicular zap 'may stop sperm' [BBC]


  1. Well, MythBusters already did the “brown note,” so they better get on this one.  A friendly tip to Kari:  When you hear the words, “Well, we’ve tried this in small scale, so it’s time to try the ultrasound-treated sperm in a real human uterus…” it’s probably time to quit and get your own show.

  2. Stick your finger briefly into the  active part of a running ultrasonic humidifier to find out why this is a bad idea.

    1. I’m studying to be an ultrasound tech so here is some information from what I understand. I just passed my physics board so I should be able to answer this well heh. There are different kinds of ultrasound, one being therapeutic (used for physical therapy) and diagnostic imaging (the kind for organs and babies.) The therapeutic ultrasound operates at different frequency levels than the diagnostic ultrasound. Diagnostic ultrasound goes by the “ALARA” principle or, “as low as reasonably achievable” meaning using the smallest amount of power that turns sound energy into thermal energy. 

      The truth is that diagnostic ultrasound does “heat up” the tissue, but it’s in such tiny tiny minute amounts that it’s impossible to measure. The therapeutic ultrasound as I mentioned operates at different frequencies and the physical therapists need to hold the transducer fixed in place for a certain amount of time for it to be considered therapeutic. Whereas with diagnostic imaging ultrasound, we move the transducer around gathering images, we don’t pause long enough to have any adverse effects on internal tissue. Hope this explains some a bit. If there’s someone who knows more about this than me please chime in. I’m just studying to be a tech, not an ultrasound physicist:) 

  3. “The team needs to ensure that the ultrasound produces a reversible effect, contraception not sterilization…”
    thats the trick, I guess.  

  4. Rob, just know that your endless hours spent hunting for the most ludicrous stock photo from shutterstock are not wasted.  This is the pinnacle of absurdity to date.

  5. Reminds me how in WW2, some Navy guys would have their buddy point the radar at their testicles prior to shoreleave; someone figured out that it rendered them temporarily infertile.

  6. Millions of guys poking around without any fear of knocking someone up? If it goes to market, I’m investing in AIDs and STD drugs.

  7. Cellular biologists routinely use ultrasound to break cells apart, to get at the goo inside.  Using it on living cells (that belong to me) sounds like a Bad Idea.

  8. In the meantime, I understand that blasting Nickelback is also an effective contraceptive.

    Sadly I think that may just lead to more conceptions among people who like Nickelback. And we really do not want that.

  9. Even if it did cause to sterilization, it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. It might turn out to be a cheaper, less-invasive, less-squick-inducing alternative to a vasectomy.

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