Scientists have developed biodegradable and magnetic nanoparticles that are used as a method of contraception in male rodents. Although it was only made in rats, it could serve as inspiration for the development of male birth control methods for humans in the future.
The research was published in the American Chemical Society’s journal Nano Letters.
Scientists from Nantong University and Shanghai University, both in China, injected mice with citric acid-coated nanoparticles for two days.
The particles were guided to the testes of the animals with the aid of magnets and magnetic fields were applied there for 15 minutes.
The effect caused a rise in temperature in the testicles and consequently spermatogenesis – the formation of sperm – was curbed.
The fertility of the animals was estimated between 7 and 60 days after treatment. In addition, male mice were exposed to females for seven days. After mating, the animals were separated.
According to the researchers, the animals were unable to father offspring for seven days after the application of nanoparticles and magnetic fields. But rodents recovered 30 to 60 days after treatment.
If you think of humans – a little far from the reality of the research tests mentioned above – there are several methods of contraception for women, but men generally rely on vasectomy and condoms, the latter also of great importance for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases).
There are studies that have been done for decades to develop other methods of contraception for men that usually focus on spermatogenesis.
However, male birth control has some difficulties. With hormones, for example, as well as with female methods, according to some studies, there are side effects such as acne, libido fluctuations, mood swings, headaches and erectile dysfunction. The long-term effects on fertility and the latency period (how long the intervention lasts for the effects to occur) are also unknown.
In general, the greatest difficulty is getting a method with few side effects that is reversible.