-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
MONDAY, Jan. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Ultrasound equipment used
for physical therapy may have potential as a male contraceptive,
according to a new animal study.
Based on their findings with lab rats, the researchers said it's
possible that the commercially available equipment could make men
infertile by lowering their sperm counts.
In conducting the study, researchers from the department of
pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine
rotated high-frequency ultrasound around male rat testes, warming
them to 37 degrees centigrade (about 98.6 degrees F). They found
two 15-minute ultrasound sessions two days apart were most
effective, resulting in a sperm count index of zero.
The study is published Jan. 29 in the journal
Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology.
"Unlike humans, rats remain fertile even with extremely low sperm counts," said James Tsuruta of the UNC School of Medicine, in a journal news release. "However, our noninvasive ultrasound treatment reduced sperm reserves in rats far below levels normally seen in fertile men (95 percent of fertile men have more than 39 million sperm in their ejaculate)."
Tsuruta said more research is needed to determine how long sperm
counts would remain low and whether or not the ultrasound procedure
is safe for more than one use.
While studies involving animals can be useful, they frequently
fail to produce similar results in humans.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides
more information on existing forms of
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