Would you try the new male contraception method?


English: Electron microscope image of sperm.

Image via Wikipedia

New research suggests that ultrasound can zap sperm. But does it really work, and what other alternatives might there be for men?

It was news that made many men cross their legs and click quickly away to another story.

A new study has revealed that ultrasound may, in future, be a reliable form of male contraceptive. The research – from scientists at the University of North Carolina – found that a short zap of high-frequency sound waves, directed at the testicles, killed a significant number of sperm in rats.

If the results were repeated in humans, the ultrasound blast would reduce sperm levels, “far below levels normally seen in fertile men,” said lead researcher Dr James Tsuruta.

More research is needed, but could this be the cheap, reliable, reversible and side-effect-free contraceptive men have been waiting for? And would you be man enough to try it?

False dawns
It’s fair to say that science has been searching for a male equivalent to the female contraceptive Pill for decades, with any number of false dawns along the way. Newspapers regularly report that a hormonal male Pill is just around the corner, but none has so far made it into the pharmacy.

That’s partly because using hormones to stop billions of sperm is a trickier undertaking than stopping one monthly egg. Using hormones to make men temporarily infertile is a tough ask and it could also be an unpopular one. As women have found, hormonal contraceptives have unpleasant side effects. Knowing that, do men really want a hormonal Pill?

“We don’t need to put men through what women went through for pill development in the 1960s,” says Elaine Lissner, director of the Male Contraception Information Project (MCIP). “Men won’t put up with it, and they shouldn’t. Times have changed.

“Hormones are not one-size-fits-all. You see this with the pill. Women often go through several attempts before they find one that’s just right for them – or at least tolerable! Why manipulate a system that affects nearly everything from A to Z – acne, blood pressure, cholesterol, you name it – when you can take a more targeted approach?”

The ultrasound method is a good example of just such a targeted approach.

The question is, will it work?

In fact, the North Carolina study is just the latest of a string of studies on the efficacy of ultrasound as a male contraceptive dating back to the 1970s. Studies have been completed on rats, dogs and monkeys. The equipment is readily available. Ultrasound does appear to zap sperm.

“It’s clear now that ultrasound works, once you get the settings right,” says Lissner. “That said, it will take a lot more research before the average man will feel comfortable with it for temporary contraception.”

And that’s the problem. There are two serious questions that need to be answered before ultrasound is accepted as a bona fide male contraceptive. Put simply, if ultrasound zaps sperm, how long does it take for fertility to recover? And what effect will repeat doses of ultrasound have on sperm quantity and quality in future?

“How well will fertility return after many uses in a row? And would there be issues with sperm quality, and possibly birth defects, while it is wearing off?” asks Lissner. At the moment, she believes ultrasound may have more potential as a permanent method, a nonsurgical alternative to vasectomy.

That might change with more research, but research requires funding, and the problem with ultrasound – and other non-hormonal contraceptives – is that there’s little profit to be made. Companies would prefer to sell men (and women) an endless supply of pills than a one-off ultrasound machine. The search for reliable male contraceptive options is a long road.

Other options
The ultrasound study does at least show is that there may be realistic alternatives to a hormonal pill many men would be reluctant to take, and the less-than-ideal methods – condoms, vasectomy, withdrawal – currently available.

According to Elaine Lissner, a different, plant-based pill called Gandarusa is in advanced clinical trials in Indonesia and could be available there soon. “But the first new method to win regulatory approval in the west may be Vasalgel, a polymer gel with a microscopic mesh structure that directly filters out the sperm as they flow through the vas deferens tube,” she says.

Another promising method is a pill being developed by a team at Kings College, London, which prevents the vas deferens (the tube sperm pass through) from contracting and pushing the sperm out during ejaculation. “It has a side benefit that ought to be of great interest to AIDS funders but has so far escaped notice: it could greatly reduce the male-to-partner transmission of HIV,” says Lissner.

The future
None of these options – or indeed a hormonal male pill or patch – is likely to be available in the very near future, however. The makers of Vasalgel – a non-profit organisation – hope to have it on the market in the west within four years.

But there is some cause for optimism. For many years policymakers didn’t think men were interested in contraception, but even with current options, men now cover more than a third of contraception in developed countries.

That may be the most important message from recent developments. Whether it’s ultrasound or anything else, young men want more of a say in the contraception they and their partners use, and they also want more – and better – options.

Why men are becoming more attractive?


You may be getting more handsome and even smarter. But don’t take my word for it – it’s science!

Young woman looking at young man (© Tim Robberts-The Image Bank-Getty Images)

Can we just say how fine you’re looking today? Somehow you look taller, a little more muscular, a bit smoother.

And you’re on good form with the chat, too. If we’re not very much mistaken, you’re as witty and sharp as you’ve ever been. We’re guessing that if you decided to chat up a girl in the bar tonight she’d be putty in your hands.

You may think we’ve gone mad – and you may well be right. But that’s not the reason for this outpouring of obsequiousness. If you’re a man, you’ve probably never looked or sounded better. Here’s why.

Woman caressing man's chin (© PhotoAlto-James Hardy-PhotoAlto Agency RF-Getty Images)

Partly, it’s evolution

But that’s not the whole story. The fact is, we’re all getting a tiny bit more attractive to women, whether we spend money at the beauty salon or not.

And that’s down to evolution. When we think of evolution, we tend to think of something that happened long ago, to our cave-dwelling, thick-browed ancestors. Not so, says Dr Virpi Lummaa, from the University of Sheffield‘s department of animal and plant sciences.

“It is a common misunderstanding that evolution took place a long time ago, and that to understand ourselves we must look back to the hunter-gatherer days of humans. Humans continue to be affected by both natural and sexual selection.”

So what’s that got to do with your pulling chances tonight? Well, according to Dr Lummaa’s research, it means that human traits are still evolving to increase their chances of mating success. And this is happening faster in men than in women.

Man hiking atop Tork Mountain with Upper Lake and Black Valley in the distance. (© David Epperson-Photodisc-Getty Images)

Dr Lummaa’s study looked at detailed church records of almost 6,000 Finns born between 1760 and 1849, and analysed their mating success and fertility. It found that sexual selection is still happening in human populations.

Co-author Dr Alexandre Courtiol, from the Wissenschaftskolleg Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin, said: “Characteristics increasing the mating success of men are likely to evolve faster than those increasing the mating success of women.

“This is because mating with more partners was shown to increase reproductive success more in men than in women.”

And what characteristics increase the chances of mating for men? The research speculates that men may be getting better looking (from a female point of view) and more intelligent even. Because if sexual selection is still taking place in humans, and these are traits women find desirable in men, men will slowly adapt to fit the ideal.

Women will evolve to fit male ideals too, but at a much slower pace because they don’t have an evolutionary need to mate with multiple partners.

Evolution may have equipped men to be more intelligent than women anyway. If there are any women reading, don’t shoot the messenger. Psychologist Professor Richard Lynn has written that, on average, adult men score five IQ points higher than women.

He claims that this is evolution at work. When our ancient forefathers hunted for food it took all their cognitive powers to bring home the bacon (or venison) day after day. That resulted in men evolving proportionately bigger brains than women.

Relaxedw man in open-top car (© Westend61-Getty Images)

Partly, it’s progress

Evolution is a very slow process, however. Scientific and technical advances are also working to make men more attractive to women.

For example, it’s largely improvements in childhood nutrition that have made both genders, but men in particular, taller then ever. Studies show that height is a physical trait women appreciate. Good childhood nutrition has also been linked to higher IQs.

The upshot of all this is that men fit female ideas of attractiveness better than at any time in human history. Our faces may be, on average, more symmetrical and more appealing, our bodies taller and our brains sharper. Add to that the time and money we’re spending on self-improvement and there’s only one possible conclusion: boy, you’re looking fine!

 

Male aphrodisiacs and stimulants: know the facts


We’ve all seen them advertised. Here, we uncover the realities behind herbal aphrodisiacs.

Most men know the drill – whether it’s lots of spam emails offering to extend your performance or a poster in the pub toilets promising a guaranteed erection, there is a huge variety of aphrodisiacs and stimulants vying for your attention.

But do they actually work? More importantly, are they even safe? MSN Him takes a closer look at this lucrative industry.

What do these products claim to resolve?
The sultry blonde smouldering on the cover of a pamphlet advertising a sex stimulant reflects the kind of provocative advertising used for male aphrodisiac pills and potions.

“The guys I have on set always use it – as it guarantees they are big, hard and ready” reads the blurb, which promises to turn the onlooker into a rampant sex machine no woman could complain about. Most of us are familiar with these types of sell.

But it’s not just top-shelf magazines that are promoting wares that play on the trademarked name Viagra or use words like Man and Maximus in their titles to suggest virility – it seems it’s not even safe to have a tinkle without being urged to buy a blue pill as a booster.

Do these sexual stimulants work?
There’s a whole host of products on offer in vending machines in pubs, with some claiming they are ‘scientifically tested’ and as safe as can be. So how true are these claims of efficacy and safety?

Dr Petra Boynton, social psychologist at University College London, says the general belief that men should always be ready for sex plays a big part in the marketing of such pills.

“There’s that stereotype that men always want sex and with that comes the pressure that they have to be able to get and keep an erection,” says Boynton. “A lot of the anxieties that men talk about are that they can’t perform in the way they are led to believe they should be doing.”

Why men rarely talk about stimulants and performance-enhancers
It’s fair to say that male performance anxiety is very real and concerning for any sufferer. As a result, we’re often easily embarrassed about sexual issues and are more likely to buy products on the web or through magazine ads, rather than seeking professional help. It can seem like the best way of preserving our dignity and self-esteem. But does that make men more vulnerable to some potentially untried and untested claims?

Dr Boynton believes that such pill promoters are exploiting men’s anxieties and offer little or no proof that they work. Equally worrying are the possible side effects and health issues associated with using such untested drugs.

“A problem for men is that if you are anxious about your performance – either due to erection issues or premature ejaculation – where do you actually go? If you go online, you can easily come across sites that will give you incorrect information, or perhaps try selling dodgy products or at best proven products in an unethical way.”

What are the dangers?
Some companies claim to offer a mixture of substances said to tackle erectile problems or help give men an ‘inflatory’ rise. But Dr Boynton reveals that apart from some well-known ingredients such as ginseng and ginger, l-arginine, magnesium stearate and silicon dioxide (better known as salt) there may also be present unknown stimulants or generic versions of Viagra.

“They can interact with alcohol/recreational drugs and also you don’t really know what you’re taking or the levels. I’ve heard stories of guys buying them off blokes down the pub – literally just purchasing capsules and taking them.

“L-arginine for instance is used in the treatment of hypertension, so if you do have any issues there it wouldn’t be wise to take it without seeing a doc first for a full MOT. Most of these ‘herbal’ products are either placebo at best or at worst contain generic Viagra or similar, so can be very dangerous for people with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart conditions, etc.”

Are these stimulants legal?
Dr James Moffatt, pharmacologist at St George’s, University of London, describes how companies are able to sell these products even when they haven’t been put through rigorous trials.

“They are probably using lots of subtle loopholes. I mean, what’s the difference between a handful of parsley and a handful of parsley that claims to cure erectile dysfunction? They can get away with saying their ingredients are a food and there’s also a lot of caffeine in these pills, which energy drinks also contain. Caffeine makes the user feel the drug is ‘kicking in’ and psychologically believe they are working. But unless these companies break the law, it seems like nobody cares what they do. [It] is basically an unregulated market.”

Embarrassment and exploitation
As guys aren’t generally known for opening up about their love lives and problems associated with sex, both Dr Boynton and Dr Moffatt believe many men will prefer to go online to find a fast remedy and buy products bypassing professional advice.

“The issue of men’s sex problems is seen as a bit of a joke, or they’re not that serious and nobody wants to talk about it,” says Dr Boynton. “So this means we are struggling to collate a firm database on what men are taking and how many adverse reactions there are.”

Dr Moffatt adds that there is certainly the potential for the erectile dysfunction market to be exploited. “If men buy something and it doesn’t work, they just throw it away,” says Dr Moffatt. “They probably won’t complain, let alone sue. Until they are seen to do actual harm, it’s unlikely any action will be taken.”

What this means is that an industry of opportunists trading on men’s fears and anxieties revolving around sexual performance is raking in money. One Australian company was hauled over the coals by UK regulatory body the Advertising Standards Authority in February 2009 for an “offensive” poster. The company argued that only by directly confronting a reluctant audience could they get their message across but the ASA agreed with complainants that the ad had crossed the line. Dr Boynton contributed to a BBC Watchdog programme about the company.

“The company ran a helpline and, as well as calling men ‘losers’ if they didn’t buy their products, they would also tell married guys that their wives would leave them for other men if they couldn’t get an erection. They were totally unethical and put untold pressure on men to buy their pills.”

John Tomlinson, director at the Men‘s Sexual Health Clinic in Winchester, is also aware of the firm, which he claims charged hefty fees for their wares.

“I had one patient who was 20 years old and suffered from premature ejaculation. He paid £600 upfront and what they gave him didn’t work,” he claims. “Eventually after a while he sued them. It’s a big problem for men in the middle-east and Asia who are constantly being exploited by these unscrupulous companies.”

Health dangers
Presently it’s difficult to know just how many men have suffered physical problems due to the anonymity of obtaining such products. “It’s possible that some men might have experienced problems and then not confessed to their doctors that they’ve been taking these pills,” says Dr Moffatt.

“By and large they are biologically harmless, but some of the stuff sold as ‘herbal Viagra’ often contains random amounts of generic Viagra made by someone who isn’t regulated, and that is illegal. Now, this can be dangerous because the taker doesn’t know what the dosage is and could take too much of it. The FDA put a warning out on this a couple of years ago.”

Genuine help and information
“Most men don’t have an actual physical problem – they just think they have a problem,” says Dr Boynton. “It might be that they just desire a stronger erection or are anxious about a new relationship or functioning due to a disappointing experience – so they end up taking clinical medication for a non-medical problem.”

The emphasis being that men should learn that it’s perfectly normal to feel anxious about performing with a new partner and equally – unless there is a consistent issue with getting an erection – most guys shouldn’t worry about it unduly.

“For men who believe they may have a genuine psychological or physical problem their first port of call should be their GP, who can assess the situation clinically and prescribe the right kind of treatment, be it medication (registered and monitored for side effects) or psychological help in the form of therapy that may be available free on the NHS.”

NICE-GUY EQUALS GOOD-BYE – Part 4


I would like to point out that these are not my opinions and as my blog states these are opinions that are expressed and shared to be understood.

For millions of years, nice guys got demolished by bad guys, and often starved to death from losing out to the competition for resources.

That meant that the women who were attracted to nice guys would probably starve as well, and not reproduce as successfully or often. In other words, with time, there eventually were no women left with the trait of feeling attraction for “nice guys”.

It took evolution a million years to fully weed out any women who liked nice guys. The situation has become so dangerous, that it has reached the point where men must embrace the following creed as pure scientific FACT:

WITH WOMEN, NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED.

From an evolutionary point of view, the “war of the sexes” has meant nothing less than immortality or annihilation: Reproduction by having sex, hopefully with someone who has awesome (read: sexy) genes is our only chance to survive beyond our own deaths and into eternity.

This means that it only makes sense to find the best sex partner you can, and also to seize any opportunity to gain control in any way possible.

But in women’s minds, there is a specific irony: “If a man is controllable, he probably is a bad genetic catch not worth exploiting for genes!” But if a man is controllable but usable at least for his “nice-ness”, for his favours, money, etc, which he will provide for her (future) children, a woman will exploit these superficial elements that are not as integral to her genetic survival, and yet not feel attraction toward him. (In her brain, it’s hardwired like this: The most important thing she can get from a man is WINNING DNA, in his sperm. If a man is not confident, he seems like he probably has LOSER DNA in his sperm. Therefore, he would create loser children who may not survive and reproduce. Therefore, no attraction toward him.)

Of course, a man who relies on money and “niceness” may not even be the real father of “his” children! This is why it was so important for men to be the ALPHA MALE/the dominant male/the best catch/THE MAN, since otherwise, the chances of raising someone else’s child increased.

If you act like a pathetic man, forget it. You’re history.

When women act pathetic/meek/nice, it isn’t so harmful, because as long as they got pregnant, the child was theirs for sure. But the best assurance a man could get that the child was his own, was to have sex with many women, and/or to simply make himself so desirable that a woman simply would not likely feel attraction to anyone else. He had to make himself a good catch, which meant becoming more courageous, a better hunter, defender, etc. In other words, for sexual value, a man relied on his “masculine” characteristics and LEARNED ABILITIES.

These abilities and character traits are what women needed from men. Whereas a woman’s sexual worth primarily came from her looks, a man’s value came from what he could do. And acting without confidence makes a woman think you can do NOTHING. It is suicide to your success with women. That is why your behaviour is so important. So not only is “nice-ness” the opposite of masculine, not only is it totally unsexy to women, but women will definitely EXPLOIT it even though they feel no sexual attraction to it.

Sucks, huh? But it’s true.

A woman will usually interpret a good deed as a sign of weakness and inferiority. She will lose attraction to you, and see “an opening”, an opportunity, to use you only for your favours. She will slowly wrest all the power away from you. She will try to use you as far as you will allow.

The more you let her push, the more she will feel you are an inferior male, therefore the more attraction she will lose for you. Simultaneously, she will try to use you more and more exclusively for your favours, since those favours are the only use you have to her. Also, there will be no reason left for her to even pretend that she likes you, since you are already giving her everything- and it seems to her like you always will!

Giving a woman “everything” once seemed like a logical way to make her like you, right? I’m glad that now you know it’s a sure-fire way to make sure she feels NOTHING for you but revulsion.