Inspired by layered cocktails, scientists develop new form of male contraception

Inspired by layered cocktails, scientists develop new form of male contraception

CultureJanuary 30, 2019 By Will Brendza

For too long has the burden of contraception fallen largely on women. They’ve been popping pills, getting IUD’s, diaphragms and vaginal rings for decades, taking measures to have sex without having babies. Which, undoubtedly, benefits men, too.

Sure, condoms have always been an option for dudely contraception, and vasectomies are a possibility as well (although they’re a little bit more of a commitment). But generally, by in large, most of the time, it’s the woman’s prerogative to make sure she doesn’t get pregnant. Even though sex is [hopefully] a two-way street.

But Chinese scientists may soon be bringing those days to an end — with layered cocktails.

Yes, that’s right, a cocktail-inspired cock contraceptive. A group of researchers took inspiration from drinks like "the Galaxy” to develop a new potential form of male contraception; a means for men to make sex safer, more consequence free by their own devices.

And the science is almost as complex as the drinks they drew their vision from in the first place.

If you’ve ever ordered a layered drink or shot at a bar, you know what I’m talking about: bartenders will pour multiple different layers of booze into a single glass, creating a stratified sequence of colorful alcoholic liquids, like a rainbow or a national flag. There’s the vertigo, the old glory, the slippery nipple, the drunken candy man, the Irish flag, and, of course, the Galaxy. These drinks maintain their stacked layers until mixed… or until they’re exposed to heat.

That sparked an idea in Xiaolei Wang’s head. If she could inject layers of materials into a man’s vas deferens (the internal sperm tube) they might be able to block ejaculations from… well, ejaculating. Then, apply heat, and those layers will break down, just as they do in the drinks, to allow for sperm flow.

Wang and her colleagues took to the lab, and began experimenting on male rats:

They sequentially injected four layers of materials into the vas deferens: a hydrogel that forms a physical barrier to sperm; gold nanoparticles, which heat up when irradiated with near-infrared light; ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), a chemical that breaks down the hydrogel and also kills sperm; and finally, another layer of gold nanoparticles.” Eureka Alert wrote in a press release on the study.

It's a simple enough idea, even if their methodology is complex: plug the sperm delivery pipe. Cork that hose so the seamen can’t sail, and you’ve got yourself a male contraceptive.

Of course, there’s still a long way to go before this cocktail-inspired male contraceptive hits the shelves at your local Walgreens. There are a lot of tests still to be done, and a lot of safety regulations and standards to be passed.

But when it does, the burden of contraception will no longer be such a one-sided responsibility to bear.