Male contraception at the flick of a switch
A new method of male birth control could serve as the perfect alternative to permanent vasectomies.
Men have had only two real options when it comes to birth control: condoms and going under the knife to get the snip. However, a new alternative, created by German carpenter Clemens Bimek, could have turned the tables on traditional methods.
Mr Bimek has created a switch that can effectively turn the flow of semen on or off, meaning that a man is made temporarily infertile. This cleaner and easier form of male birth control can help to avoid unwanted pregnancies with less mess and no permanent effects.
He first came up with the idea 20 years ago, while watching a documentary about contraception. It left him thinking about whether a sperm duct valve can control semen flowing from the testicles to the tube.
While a number of doctors didn't take the idea of a contraceptive valve seriously, others that Mr Bimek spoke to told him to carry on with his idea. His perseverance led to him filing a patent for the device in the year 2000, with the first prototype being developed six years later.
The valve - which has now been named the Bimek SLV - weighs around two grams and measures in at 1.8 cm. It is then surgically implanted on the ducts where semen and sperm travel from the testicles.
This means that once the valve is turned on, the sperm cannot flow through the tube. Instead, it is directed back to the testicles, working in a similar way to vasectomies but without being permanent.
While the device is not yet widely available, it has hundreds of men interested in it already. A clinical trial of the device is set to start this year, with an initial 25 men taking part. The trial will assess whether the device is safe for use and as effective as theorised.