Imagine how different the world might be if reliable birth control was as simple as flipping a switch. Now imagine that switch is literal, and controls a surgically-implanted valve inside a man's testicles that allows him to turn his sperm flow on and off just by flipping it... because this is a real thing.
According to a report from New York Daily News, a German carpenter named Clemens Bimek has "discovered how to insert a valve that can allow men to turn the flow of sperm on and off — all by flipping a switch located under the skin of the scrotum."
Yes, you read that right. Once implanted, the tiny valve (which is less than an inch long and weighs less than one-tenth of an ounce) allegedly allows the wearer to turn their own sperm flow on or off just by nudging the switch in their scrotum. There's also a safety button that ensures it can't be switched to "on" accidentally during rigorous stimulation or scratching.
When the valve is in the the off position, the sperm is diverted back into the body so it can't enter the ejaculatory fluid, eliminating any possibility of pregnancy. When it's in the on position, sperm flows into ejaculatory fluid as per usual.
The switch is called the Bimek SLV, and is currently only implanted in one man -- Bimek, its inventor -- but the New York Daily News reports that it will be implanted in 25 more men for trials beginning in 2016. It could totally revolutionize birth control.
"Many of the doctors I consulted didn't take me seriously," Bimek said. "But there were some who encouraged me to go on tinkering and helped me with their expertise."
Hartwig Bauer, the urologist who implanted the switch for Bimek, said the implant is superior to a vasectomy, since "A third of [vasectomy] patients want to have the operation reversed later, but it doesn't always work." This option allows men to easily control whether or not they're sterile without requiring additional surgeries -- and also provides reliable birth control that doesn't require men or women to take hormones.
Not everyone is on board with the concept yet; the spokesman for the Professional Association of German Urologists, Wolgang Bühmann indicated that he's worried the implant could case scarring, which could potentially create problems with turning the switch back to "on" if the valve is closed for a long time and becomes clogged with scar tissue.
Anneke Loos, the head of a medical product testing center in Hannover, Germany, doesn't share those concerns. Loos pointed out that same material used in the Bimek SLV are already being used successfully in other parts of the body without causing scarring.
Depending on how the clinical trials go, the Bimek SLV could be heading our way in the near future. You can watch the full video explaining the super-cool science behind the Bimek SLV below: