Trials are set to begin for a device that can reportedly control whether or not sperm leaves the testicles.
About 20 years ago, German carpenter Clemens Bimek conceived the idea of a valve turning the flow of sperm on and off via a switch.
He developed the 1.8-centimeter valve and since had the device, called the Bimek SLV, implanted in his own body, according to The Telegraph.
Bimek reportedly said,
Many of the doctors I consulted didn't take me seriously. But there were some who encouraged me to go on tinkering and helped me with their expertise.
Bimek apparently used only a local anesthetic during the implantation procedure so he could provide directions to urologist Hartwig Bauer.
It reportedly takes just 30 minutes for the valve, weighing almost 3 grams, to be placed on the vas deferens, the tube sending sperm from the testicles to the urethra.
The switch is located underneath the thin skin of the scrotum and can be easily turned on and off.
When the valve is closed, sperm cells are unable to leave the testicles and mix with semen, rendering the man infertile, Daily Mail reports.
The sperm is simply reabsorbed into the body, in the same way it would if the man had a vasectomy.
When the valve is opened, sperm can enter the penis and be ejaculated.
Bauer said patients who may be considering a vasectomy will be pleased with this alternative.
He reportedly explained,
A third of patients want to have the [vasectomy] reversed later, but it doesn't always work.
The Bimek SLV will be implanted in 25 trial participants early this year, but several doctors are skeptical of side effects.
Wolfgang Bühmann, a spokesman for the Professional Association of German Urologists, reportedly said,
My assessment is that implanting the valve could cause scarring where it meets the vas deferens.
Such damage could apparently render sperm permanently unable to leave the testicles.
Sperm could also stick to the valve if it remains closed for too long, resulting in clogging that could prevent the valve from opening.
Below is a video explaining how the Bimek SLV looks and works inside the body.
Citations: German carpenter invents on-off contraception switch for sperm (The Telegraph), New implant allows men to turn their fertility on and off with the flick of a switch inside the scrotum (Daily Mail)