Los Angeles, CA–This new form of reversible vasectomy sounds good–they place a device in the vas deferens which can be signaled to expand or contract, thus opening or closing the tube.
It’s certainly not perfected yet, and over time the valve may clog with protein and remain shut, rendering the man permanently infertile. If and when it’s perfected, it would be an ideal thing for young men–they could get the protection they need when they’re young, then open the valves once they’re married and want to have kids, and then close them again afterwards.
From Radio-controlled sperm ‘tap’ turns off vasectomies (NewScientist.com, January 2008):
A radio-controlled contraceptive implant that could control the flow of sperm from a man’s testicles is being developed by scientists in Australia.
The device is placed inside the vas deferens – the duct which carries sperm from each testicle to the penis. When closed, it blocks the flow of sperm cells, allowing them to pass again when it is opened via a remote control. The valve could be a switchable alternative to vasectomy, the researchers say.
Although women can choose from several long-term contraceptive methods, for men vasectomy is really the only option. With this procedure, the vasa deferentia are cut or blocked, a process that requires surgery and can require a week of recovery. The procedure cannot be reliably reversed, leaving some men to later regret their decision.
Now, a team from the University of Adelaide, Australia, may have come up with a more easily reversed alternative. They have designed a small radio-controlled valve that would “push-fit” snugly inside the vas deferens and block the passage of sperm.
The silicone-polymer valve can be flipped between open and closed positions with a pulse of radio waves. A set of conducting “fingers” on the valve act as antennae and convert the signal’s energy into sound waves that travel through the polymer and create stresses inside the device.
“Since it is flexible, the polymer either contracts or expands as a result, and this movement allows the valve to be opened or closed as needed,” explains team leader Said Al-Sarawi.
“It will be like turning a TV on and off with a remote control,” added team founder Derek Abbott, “except that the remote will probably be locked away in your local doctor’s office to safeguard against accidental pregnancy or potential misuse of the device.”
To secure the device against accidental activation, the device works in a similar way to a car’s remote key-fob. Each valve responds only to a radio-frequency signal with a unique code.
Another advantage of the microvalve is that would not require open surgery, unlike a vasectomy. The 800 micron-long device could simply be inserted using a hypodermic needle. “The procedure could be performed in a special clinic rather than in a hospital,” says Abbott.
The researchers have finished the design of all parts of the valve, and are convinced it will work effectively. The next step is to test it in the lab with a tube of pressurized water. After that, trials could begin in live sheep and pigs, they say.
Read the full article here. Thanks to Jean, a reader, for sending it.