Yep, you read that headline right. Despite the fact that many men would like to take on more responsibility when it comes to contraception, so far there have only been two established methods of contraception for men: the condom and the permanent vasectomy. Other methods, like the pill for men, have so far been neither clinically nor commercially successful.
Enter COSO. Devised by Rebecca Weiss, an Industrial Design graduate from the Technical University of Munich, COSO is concept for an ultrasound-based, reversible and hormone-free contraceptive for men. It’s this year’s winner of the James Dyson Award in Germany and has been shortlisted in the Top 20 inventions of the international James Dyson Award 2021.
So, how exactly does it work? Well, it’s a device that generates ultrasound deep heat in the testicular tissue, causing sperm mobility to be modified and temporarily prevented, meaning the female egg cannot be fertilised.
“The first use of the device takes place at a doctor’s surgery to ensure correct execution, after which point it can be used in a home environment,” reads a press release on the invention.
“Two weeks after the first application, the contraceptive efficacy sets in but if contraception is no longer wanted or needed, it ends no later than six months after the last use.”
So far, COSO is still in the theoretical design stages and while it’s been successfully tested on animals, further studies will need to be done for use in humans.
On the inspiration behind the design, Rebecca Weiss says, “About a year ago I was diagnosed with precursor cervical cancer due to contraception with the pill. After that, hormonal contraception was no longer an option. When my partner and I were looking for an alternative method, we became aware of the lack of male contraceptives.”
“This problem is not unique to me personally, it affects many others as well as is made evident in the current growing public discussion about the lack of contraceptive alternatives. So, I decided to explore the development of a new contraceptive approach for men in my master thesis in Industrial Design at the Technical University in Munich.”
Weiss describes COSO describes as a contraceptive method that’s easy to use, without any physical intervention, pain or known side effects. She says that to bring COSO to the public, more valid data needs to be gathered and for that she’s currently looking for contacts with research institutions and industrial partners who are willing to finance clinical trials.
“The designer’s [Weiss’] detailed research and engagement with doctors and test subjects shows that this project has a lot of potential,” says Stefan Eckstein, President of the Federation of German Industrial Desingers and jury member for the German leg of the James Dyson Award. “In addition, the project contributes to real social change with regard to gender and responsibility when it comes to contraception.”
The winners of the James Dyson competition will be announced November 17, 2021.