Gates Foundation offers $100k for 'next-gen condom'

We're not quite sure what a next-generation condom would look like (gesture control? a tiny touch screen?), but we may find out sooner rather than later if the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation succeeds in its new quest.

The foundation is seeking new ideas that improve on condom design, which it describes as having seen "very little technological improvement in the last 50 years." The winning proposal gets a cool $100,000, and could potentially earn more in additional funding.

The foundation suggests that if a redesigned condom could enhance a sexual experience and not detract from it, more men would use one, therefore reducing disease transmission, unwanted pregnancies, and so on. The request also seeks ideas "that increase ease-of-use for male and female condoms, for example better packaging or designs that are easier to properly apply. In addition, attributes that address and overcome cultural barriers are also desired." … Read more

Expect tantrums from BabyPlan

If you're serious about getting pregnant, you probably know that tracking your menstrual cycles and ovulation is a great way to increase your odds. There are plenty of ways to do this; you can do it the old-fashioned way, using a calendar, or there are any number of Web sites that can do much of the work for you. Or, if you're an Excel user, you can use a spreadsheet.

That's what BabyPlan is: an Excel workbook that helps you calculate your cycle length, predict ovulation, calculate due dates, and even predict the sex of your baby. … Read more

Ultrasound one step closer to killing sperm--and the vasectomy

Male birth control hasn't progressed since condoms and vasectomies were devised more than 100 years ago. And while the idea of using therapeutic ultrasound to zap sperm has been kicked around for decades, it has never been sufficiently reliable for contraception.

Until now.

Researchers have now found that a commercially available therapeutic ultrasound generator and transducer can significantly deplete the sperm count of rats. The team, based out of the University of North Carolina, relied on funding from the Parsemus Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The results are notable because they improve on the only promising … Read more

Gates grant to fund testicle-blasting contraceptive

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded a $100,000 grant to a couple of researchers investigating the use of ultrasound as a reversible male contraceptive.

The technique already works on rats, according to James Tsuruta, of the University of North Carolina, who led the research.

"We think this could provide men with reliable, low-cost, non-hormonal contraception from a single round of treatment," he said.

Read more of "Gates grant to fund testicle-blasting contraceptive" at

Should contraception qualify for climate funds?

Contraception would be the cheapest and most effective way to reduce carbon emissions worldwide between 2010 and 2050, according to a study by the London School of Economics.

The report, "Fewer Emitters, Lower Emissions, Less Cost," (PDF) determined that if contraception was made widely available between 2010 and 2050 to women and men around the world who wished to use it, the reduction in unwanted births could result in saving 34 gigatonnes (one billion tonnes) of carbon emissions. That's roughly 60 years worth of U.K. emissions or 6 years worth of U.S. emissions.

The cost … Read more