Men Not That Interested in Birth Control Involving a Zap to the Balls

Scientists may have discovered a new form of male birth control, which the media is calling — horrifyingly — the "testicular zap." Of course, guys in India already have access to horrifying-sounding yet effective reversible birth control, in the form of a shot to the scrotum. We asked some dudes which they would prefer.

According to the BBC, the ball zap is currently available only to rats. Scientists put the rodents in warm salt water and then fired ultrasound at their testicles — the zap reduced their sperm count to less than 10 million sperm per milliliter, which would be considered "sub-fertile" in humans. Success! Kind of. Researchers still aren't sure if their testicle ray gun damages sperm or fertility permanently, or if it could lead to birth defects in subsequent kids. Still, whenever there's a male birth control method on the horizon, a lot of press focuses on whether or not dudes will be willing to use it. See for instance this piece on male hormonal BC, in which a guy says, "I would rather rely on a solution that doesn't involving medicating myself and the problems women have had with hormone therapy doesn't make me anxious to want to sign on to taking a hormone-type therapy." It's tempting to be like, yeah us too, asshole — but the fact is men just aren't used to the idea of modifying their body chemistry as a method of birth control, and it's not surprising that they're scared of it. Especially if it involves zapping. Or needles.

When we spoke non-scientifically to a non-random sample of men, we found a few who'd be willing to get zapped — especially if the alternative was a shot. One guy told us it might feel good, like ultrasound therapy on a hurt shoulder. But in this game of would-you-rather, several dudes picked "neither." Said one,

The zapping sounds kind of dangerous, like maybe there's unknown sideeffects down the line. And injecting something into your balls is like, the worst thing imaginable.

Another said, "never a shot in the ballsz never ever," and added, "the z was inadvertent, but appropriate." Then there was this crucial interview, conducted over IM by Jessica:

Jessica: there are two possible male contraceptives on the horizon
1. an injection to your balls, which is being tested on men in india.

Anonymous Man: PASS

J: 2. an ultrasound on your balls (currently testing on rats)
which would knock out your soldiers for a bit

AM: For how long?

J: dunno, only rats. neither are permanent.

AM: So which would I rather have done?
Ultrasound or needle?

J: right

AM: One needle in the sac or is it two injections?

J: does it really matter?

AM: And how long is the ultrasound?

J: dude, too much thought. just sight unseen, which sounds better to you?

AM: Well, yeah. If I'm getting a needle in the balls, I'd rather it be one than two.
Ultrasound, obviously.

J: what if the ultrasound had more side effects than the needle. nothing serious, but let's say hormonal changes on the level of what a woman might experience w the pill.
would that impact your decision?

AM: Ah. Probably.
Which one would let me jizz more?

J: we're done here.

Seriously though, both the zap and the needle are obviously pretty invasive — even though guys would only need the shot every ten years. For all its problems, the birth control pill has been an enormous boon to women over the past sixty years, and increasingly, guys want one of their own. Said one of our interviewees, "I'll take the pill please. Can't they just make a pill?" Well, can't they?

Testicular zap 'may stop sperm' [BBC]