back to article Bill Gates backs ball-busting ultrasound

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has stumped up $100,000 to fund University of North Carolina research into using ultrasound as a male contraceptive method. The promising technique simply blasts a chaps' 'nads with ultrasound, stopping sperm production. Once the available supply is exhausted, the man is infertile for up …


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  1. Marcus Aurelius

    Where do I submit list of "volunteer" test subjects?

  2. The Indomitable Gall


    I really don't like the sound of that.

    In fact, it gives me the willies!

  3. PhonicUK

    Mass sterilization...

    Massive high-range tweeters installed in overpopulated areas.

    Problem solved!

    Better yet, install them in clubs where chavs and other yobbo's like to congregate.

    1. Eddy Ito
      Black Helicopters

      Only half joking

      I'm sure governments everywhere are wondering how to deploy it.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    sorry for being a n00b

    if I understand it correctly, the device will stop the production of sperms for 6 months, right?

    does that mean no sex for 6 months? well, not really no sex... but isn't the sperm how men *cough* come *cough*? therefore, without it... men well _NOT_ climax? Which basically means.... no sex for 6 months (assuming the sperm supply is consumed in the first weekend).

    so is this device a birth control device for men?... or is it a no sex, for 6 months, for men?

    sorry... I am a programmer... so unless medical fact are explained it will be hard for me to understand them.

    1. Dave Cradle

      Don't worry.

      You'll still be able to finish in 20 seconds, just as normal. The difference is that the semen you pump in to Polythene Pauline won't contain viable sperm.

      Probably. In not a doctor. I just wanted to make a prem/doll comment. :-)

    2. Dave Gregory
      Thumb Up

      Doesn't mean no sex

      In fact,it doesn't even mean no ejaculation. Semen will still be produced, but viable sperm will not. As I understand it, the result is similar to a temporary vasectomy (but much less painful and invasive). So really, once you've got the last of the little fellas out of your system, it's fun as normal, without the risk of causing pregnancy (of course, this is no protection from STDs).

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Good Grief

      There is no rule that you can't have sex or ejaculate if there is no sperm in your semen.

      (Yes, it does contain other "stuff" - I assume it's on wikipedia, but I won't be visiting at work.)

      Moving on, I once had them ultrasounded - it was to check for cancer (fortunately there was none); I'm guessing this procedure is how they found out its spermicidal capabilities. I'm now wondering if I got the contraceptive effects as well - it certainly would not have been relevant at the time. :-(

      For the curious, it involves getting lots of gel on the scrotum, before the machine operator moves the ultrasound transceiver around each testicle for a few minutes - it's not remotely unpleasant.

      1. Secretgeek

        @Good grief

        I did actually go to " at work". Strangely it was an article on the...

        (a) Royal Navy

        (b) Working girls of Amsterdam

        (c) Health and safety practices in a fertility clinic

        (d) Tour dates of the popular Aussie ditty thieves 'Men At Work'

        Select one or more of the above.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up


        Do get to choose a young lady to massage the gel into the aforementioned region

    4. ravenviz Silver badge

      Re: sorry for being a n00b

      One assumes semen production will remain unaffected.

    5. some vaguely opinionated bloke

      sperm != semen

      ... else vasectomised chaps would effectively be castrated.

      Back to the books, m'laddo...

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As you're a programmer

      sperm != semen

    7. Richard 81

      Rather than down vote

      Rather than down vote your post, I am going to assume you don't actually know and are sincerely asking for information.

      Only a very small potion of male ejaculate is actually sperm. The rest; lubricating fluids, stuff for the sperm to swim in, is still made by the body, even if the man is (temporarily) infertile. I think (but am not certain) that such fluids originate from the prostate, rather than the testes themselves. The idea that a procedure such as this, a vasectomy, or any other reason for infertility will make a man ahem... dry up, is a misconception.

      Anyone more informed than me should feel free to correct me on details.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        @Richard 81

        thanks for explaining, I always assumed that in the English language sperm is semen, just 2 names for the same thing (my first language is not English).

        as for the others, thanks for taking the time to posts your comments

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I would guess

      that the effect is no different to having snip, no sperm present but ejaculation still there as the bulk of ejaculate isn't sperm but is created in the prostate.

    9. Anonymous Coward

      Get some sex ed...

      Semen contains sperm and seminal fluid (produced by the prostate). If the sperm are eliminated from the ejaculate (say through ultrasound or vascectomy), the orgasm is the same.but there is almost no possibility of getting the partner pregnant*.

      May I recommend finding another job and a life to go with it? Then again, perhaps Darwin would be proud of you...

      * for the real noob - one partner should be male and the other female for pregnancy to be a danger in the first place.

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      RE: Sperm Production

      Having had an Op to do this more permanently; This is not the case in the same way as I still get colds and have runny noses ...

      On the other hand I'm married, so "... no sex for 6 months?" is not out of the question :)

    11. Oliver 5


      I think by "I am a programmer" you either mean "I am extremly stupid" or "I am still a minor", personally, I'm betting on the second option.

      go look up what a vasectomy is and get back to us.

    12. Chris Miller

      Ego te absolvo

      Sperm makes up only a few percent of seminal fluid. Men who have had vasectomies do not stop having sex. (Otherwise, what would be the point?)

    13. Aaron Em

      You're confusing sperm and semen

      The fluid you ejaculate is semen, not sperm; it contains sperm (assuming you're producing them and there aren't any blocked tubes or similar), but sperm cells make up a tiny fraction by volume of the ejaculate, so their presence or absence doesn't make any macroscopic difference at all to what comes out the end of your dick.

      And, no, you don't need sperm production to orgasm -- hell, you don't even need to *ejaculate* to orgasm, for that matter. For further insight, apply your programmer's deductive reasoning skills on the following question: Why is vasectomy not equivalent to castration?

      Or just go on Wikipedia and redress your appalling lack of knowledge. Seriously, how did you make it to adulthood without knowing how your own genitals work?

    14. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      ... ejaculation != orgasm, for males or for females. Though the two are (in general) more closely linked for men than women.

    15. Daniel B.

      Semen-less contraception

      While this method doesn't remove semen, I remember reading about a method which in fact inhibited semen as well. Now that one I'd complain on rendering males unable to *come*.

    16. Captain Thyratron

      Oh, fiddlesticks.

      I logged into Yahoo! Answers thinking it was The Register.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Since I started working in RF

    My headaches have all cleared up and my teeth have never been whiter

  6. tas

    Tin foil lining in my Calvin Kleins?

    With fertility in the developed world continuing to drop combined with modern knowledge economy stresses leading to deferred child-rearing, there is or should be little incentive in these regions to introduce yet another form of contraception with completely unknown long-term consequences.

    I mean seriously...if you were a male, who would not under other circumstances be required to be chemically castrated, why on earth would you chose to have your "balls busted" like this? Mmm, condom or busted balls...condom or busted balls - tricky one!

    I'm guessing this one is for fire-and-forget mass contraception/neutering short term in the developing world...

    If not, I demand tin foil lining in my Calvin Kleins in case someone figures out how to make portable ultrasound hit-and-fry gonad devices!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      I reckon.....

      they'll build it into seats in public buildings and transport?

    2. Richard 81

      How about

      How about those people who are in a long term monogamous relationship? If for whatever reason the woman cannot use a contraceptive pill, or there is a good chance that it'll fail, a male contraceptive provides an alternative to forever having to wear a condom.

      The other argument is that maybe men might want to have some more options for contraceptives and might want to take some control.

      Anyway, after sufficient clinical trials, sign me up!

      1. Oninoshiko

        or maybe..

        There is also the fact that condoms (like everything else humans do) have a failure rate higher then zero.

        Think about it like RAIDed contriception...

        When you also account that this is non-invasive, and temporary it starts to gain alot of appeal to someone who is active but not wanting to be "daddy" in the near future (or have a knife in the nether-regions).

  7. Fizzl

    Reminds me of Half-life 2

    'The Suppression Field is a field imposed by the Combine upon gaining dominance of Earth, which prevents human procreation, and helps to keep the population in check. '

    Ah so that is how they do it!

  8. ravenviz Silver badge

    Re: Tin foil lining in my Calvin Kleins?

    I agree about the not-known long term effects but "busted balls" easily compares to the hormonal assault women have had as contraception for years, also wth side effects that are only coming to light now. I think it's time men shared the load*.

    *pun not intended but still funny

  9. Fluffykins Silver badge

    @AC, sorry for being a n00b

    If the result is anything like a vasectomy, (and I have every reason to suspect it is), you just stop producing sperm. What you _don't_ stop producing is seminal fluid - which is added further along the production system, so you can still imitate a soft ice cream machine to your heart's content.

    Me, I went for the permanent option years ago and never looked back.

    99, anyone?

  10. JimC

    @noob and tas

    noob: no there's more to what comes out than just sperm: otherwise vasectomy would have the same effect...

    tas: think of it as temporary vasectomy.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Yeah but

    Who is going to try version 1.0 of this MS product*???

    I forsee a new catch-phrase: BBOD (blue balls of death)...

    *OK, it's only indirectly a MS product..

  12. Anonymous John
    Thumb Up

    Think of it as evolution in action.

    Three generations from now, everyone will be descended only from men who can produce sperm resistant to ultrasound.

    We'll all be perfect specimens of homo sapiens, Long lived, disease-free, and IQs of at least 300.

    1. dogged
      Thumb Up

      Already begun

      Post night-club pregnancy is now selecting toward men able to maintain an erection under the influence of amphetamine. Probably good news all round.

  13. Aaron Em


    I am greatly cheered every time someone suggests a new possibility in male contraception, because it means I will shortly be entertained by watching men get all protective of their ever-lovin' nuts. Like a few ultrasound waves (or, as in the case of an Eastern European doctor who was in the news a few months back, a few volts) is going to rip your balls right off your body, or turn them purple and evil, or make them swell up and rot, or some damned thing.

  14. Ben Raynes

    Ultrasound, painless...?

    ... my arse!

    Having previously had ultrasound as a treatment option, I can confirm that the old ultrasound on soft tissue isn't what you'd call painless.

    I'm thinking that this on your "gentleman's area" isn't going o be as fun as you'd think! It's entirely possibly that the '6-month contraception' will take the form of you being in such excruciating pain for 6 months you won't be able to!

  15. Tim Jenkins

    Nuke your 'nads, win valuable prizes

    I suspect most of the readers here have been doing this for years with a variety of portable IT devices.

    Due to an over-wide vent grill, I once had a dressing-gown cord/gpu fan incident with a rather nice gaming laptop. Guess I should be thankful it was ony the cord that got tangled...

  16. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    ...injected new life into the concept.

    Surely that's not *quite* what they had in mind?

    The dirty mac, obviously.

  17. Arthur "2 Sheds" Jackson

    What's the Frequency Kenneth?

    Is this the same as the ultrasound treatment I receive after a sports injury?

    Reckon my Physio could make a few bob extra if she offered this as an "extra"

  18. Bassey

    I thought the problem was....

    I thought the biggest obstacle to male contraception in general is that women (rightly or wrongly) believe all men to be weaselly little liars and would rather give up chocolate for lent than believe some bloke who tells them "no, its okay love. I've had my balls blasted by ultra-sound". This is why the male pill has never really taken off.

    1. ravenviz Silver badge


      One would hope the treatment is also available to couples in long term monogamous relationships. Other methods remain available for fly-by-nights if that's how people choose to conduct their bedroom* activities.

      *public toilets / behind some bins - delete as necessary

  19. anarchic-teapot

    new innovations

    An interesting insight to the male psyche: mention anything that involves sperm production, and you can sneak exceptionally egregious tautologies past them without them blinking.


    And I am prepared to bet Lester had a wager running on this.

  20. Steen Hive

    Ultrasound + balls + Bill Gates?

    Blue Scream of Death!

  21. Luther Blissett

    It's not for you lot

    Can eu spell billgenics?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Other Changes

    Can the sound waves change other things, like .... flavor?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I'm no doctor...

    but I know men will still be able to ejaculate

    BUT.... Will this affect libido, I'm not sure how it works with hormones et al but woman's contraceptives decrease libido, would this do the same?

    Apart from answering that, having a nice young lady massages my balls with gel then get up close and personal with a machine sounds great!

  24. Anonymous Coward

    I use ultrasound...

    ... to stop the neighbour's dog from shitting all over our garden.

    We have no kids.

  25. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    1 shot, painless, no consumable, no surgery, still ejaculate


  26. Painless

    ultrasound detection != ultrasound treatment

    Type your comment here — plain text only, no HTML

    @ Ben R.

    the ultrasound used for a "treatment" (most likely sports related) is very high powered and intended to sonically treat deep muscle tissue. Muscle tissue is also particularly dense and hard to beam sound through. Both reasons for high powered ultrasound.

    the ultrasound used for detection (like in seeing your babies) is low powered and intended only to return a soundwave to form an image. It also has to go through nice soft skin and an amnio sac and therefore doesn't need penetrating power (I know, I said 'penetrating'.....). Just think--women don't get their babies squeezed out when they go in for an ultrasound.

    the ultrasound being considered for the "bal-busting" treatment only has to go through the very small amount of soft tissue in your scrotum and testes and so is the low-powered kind, so no worries about busting your nuts in any way other than the figurative.

  27. Painless

    problems with the male pill

    @ bassey

    the main problem with the "male pill" is not that women don't trust men (they may not and probably shouldn't). The main problem is that to make a woman infertile (temporarily) requires you to prevent ONE egg being released during one particularly small window of time once a month, while to make a man infertile (temporarily) requires you to suppress the production of MILLIONS of sperm EVERY DAY of every month, constantly. One tast is much easier than the other.

    Not to mention, a woman does not ovulate during pregnancy. So we had a very obvious model to recreate to make the "female pill". Men NEVER stop producing sperm. Not even when their balls are old and grey and shrivelled..........

  28. D. Suse
    Gates Horns

    Microsoft's latest plan for world domination...

    Ballmer: "Bill, every time we get into hot water, we turn to you. Again we need your help, as the world seems to be flipping us the finger...we are losing customers to open source and cloud computing, and failing miserably in our mobile products".

    Gates: "Well Steve, the problem is obvious; people are growing BALLS (and this does not seem to be restricted to only genetic males of the species). What we need to do is to convince them that it is a good idea to let us cook their balls with a "MicroSOFT" sonic blaster for the purpose of "population control". That should neutralize any trace amounts of testosterone production, and make them easily dominated and apathetic, i.e. the sheep-like consumers that our business model demands. As well, they won't be interested in shagging anymore, so no one will be able to say our plan is not working as advertised."

    Ballmer: "Excellent! Might as well call up the media and start the "balls" rolling. Just one thing, we Microsofties won't have to volunteer for the procedure, will we?"

    Gates: "No, I'm the only one with any balls in this company, you know that!".

    Ballessmer: "Oh, right you are, Bill, he he!"

  29. Craig 28

    Lay off already

    The guy admitted English wasn't his first language, and they don't exactly teach you the word sperm in GCSE language classes now do they? It's perfectly plausible that the guy honestly didn't fully understand the translation of sperm and semen. They're two closely linked concepts in a rather risque area of language.

  30. James O'Brien


    The only thing I could do when reading this article was cross my legs and cringe.....oooowwww!!!

  31. CaptSmegHead

    Around 6 months?

    There is going to be some variance between males in how long this treatment is effective for. The worry is that you have your knackers zapped and then your swimmers actually reactivate after 5 months.

    1. Steve Roper

      Which is why

      if you want to bonk on a regular basis without risking becoming an "accidental" father, you'd get the treatment with a 50% margin for error; that is, every 3 months.

      Given, however, that it is illegal in my country (Australia) for a man to get a vasectomy (even a reversible one) unless he can prove he's fathered at least one child, I'd say the misandrists in the government here will put paid to this ultrasound business pretty quickly, at least here. Unless you're already a father and thus eligible to be milked for child support...

      (BTW, interesting to note that Firefox underlines "misandrists" as a spelling error but not "misogynists". I wonder why that is?)

  32. disgruntled yank


    Surely I'm not the only nerd out here who remembers Pig Bodine and the radar mast in _V_.

  33. Big-nosed Pengie
    Gates Horns

    Blue balls of death?

    That is all.

  34. David McMahon
    Gates Horns

    oh dear

    I feel for the junior MS staff doing the trials to impress their boss!

  35. Mips
    Jobs Horns

    Just wait till BOFH gets one...

    ...PFY won't stand a chance.

    Watch the sparks fly

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