Another way to keep Elvis out of the building

DE RERUM NATURA - Maria Isabel Garcia () - February 23, 2012 - 12:00am

I found an experiment that holds great promise in the area of managing fertility and personal comedies. A study published last Jan. 30 in the journal of Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology found that applying ultrasound devices to testicles could deplete sperm count. Not long after, headlines like “Zapping testicles with ultrasonic pulses shown to be effective contraceptive” started to appear in science news, prompting comments, understandably from men, that “zapping” and “testicles” should never appear in the same title of a headline. But I am female, so I find bizarre intellectual satisfaction in such phrases and am borrowing it now and running away with it. 

The news was accompanied by images of two kinds of testicles — one that was “zapped” by ultrasound and one that was not. The one that was not zapped by ultrasound looked like a cross section of an orange — with lots of “pulp bits” (sperm cells). The one that was zapped by ultrasound seemed like a skating rink, with a mere outline of a circumference and a white space in the middle — evidence that all its “elvises” have left the building. 

The experiment was a follow-up from work done in the 70s by Mostafa Fahim that showed that indeed ultrasound devices seemed to mute enough sperm in men to render them unable to take on what Genghis Khan has reputedly done in record numbers in history: score.   

The recent experiment, conducted by researchers from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, did it with rats’ testicles and compared it with the ones treated with heat. “Heated” family jewels are known in science to show decreased sperm count that is why hot baths for men and jobs like driving which provides higher temperatures down there have shown to negatively affect male fertility. The experiment worked to the satisfaction of the researchers (although the rats may feel differently since it was their “elvises” that were zapped.) 

Later on, another experiment done in the University of California-Davis, tried it on monkeys and got the same results with an interesting side story from one of the researchers who revealed beyond the required intellectual integrity in experiments, that they felt pretty silly massaging monkey balls for 30 minutes, three times a week. She admitted that others who worked in the same lab may have been wondering what they were doing. And if you are all wondering whether this experiment caused any pain to the monkeys, she said that “the monkeys did not seem to mind the treatment a bit...” 

While “zapping testicles” may seem painful to men’s ears, the world of reproduction may have just found a less invasive way for men to share the responsibility of managing fertility. It is simply sound and heck, it is not even sound you can hear. It is that very device found in physical rehabilitation centers and sports clinics that therapists use to apply on muscles. More research is being done to see how much zapping is needed to keep the “elvises” from reappearing and if the process can be reversed, without harming the quality of “elvises” that will appear later. 

I wonder if this kind of contraception will be met with the same zeal by the religious, as the pill and other contraceptive devices have been. I have always been of the persuasion that those who think that “unnatural ways” to manage fertility are automatically evil, suffer from a serious lack of intellectual budget. Up to now, these people seem to be unwilling to admit their intellectual deficit when they should open up their vaults to those willing to give them some without interest. I wonder if they could oppose this new promising contraceptive with a consistently straight face. If they could not and instead let out a silly grin, I have to say, then that there is hope for this country of ours.

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For comments, e-mail dererumnaturastar@hotmail.com.

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