Ultrasound zap to stop sperm production

Scientists claim to have made a step closer to developing an entirely new form of contraception for men after finding that a dose of ultrasound to the testicles helps stop the production of sperm in rats.

In their study, published in the journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, researchers at the University of North Carolina found that sound waves could be used to reduce sperm counts to levels that would cause infertility in humans.

Although the findings are "promising" , far more tests are required before it could be used in humans, they said.

"Further studies are required to determine how long the contraceptive effect lasts and if it is safe to use multiple times," lead researcher James Tsuruta was quoted as saying by the BBC News.

The concept was first proposed in the 1970s, but is now being pursued by the North Carolina team who won a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. They found that two, 15-minute doses "significantly reduced" the number of sperm-producing cells and sperm levels.

The sperm count in rats dropped to below 10 million sperm per millilitre. It was most effective when delivered two days apart and through warm salt water.

In humans, the researchers said men were considered to be "sub-fertile" when sperm counts dropped below 15 million sperm per millilitre . Tsuruta said they need to ensure that the ultrasound produces a reversible effect, contraception not sterilization , as well as investigate whether there would be cumulative damage from repeated doses.

Sunshine vitamin boosts fertility

Can't conceive? Bask in the sun, for a study says it can boost fertility in both men and women. Researchers at Medical University of Graz in Austria say sunlight boosts fertility in both men and women by increasing their levels of vitamin D which is also key to balancing sex hormones in females and improving sperm count in males.

Explained: Why boys speak late

Researchers have long agreed that girls tend to develop language skills faster than boys. An international team, led by the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, has claimed that boys who are exposed to high levels of testosterone before birth are twice as likely to experience delays in language development.

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