June 19, 2010

Slinging Balls for Science

Our fearless editrix finds herself this evening pacing about the Sex and the 405 newsroom (naked, of course) bemoaning the lack of white bread to be found in California. But fear not, for while the rest of the staff attempts to distract her with Star Wars porn, I am here to educate and entertain.

Introducing: A ball sack for your ball sack. A sling for your thing. A sock for your cock. A thong for your dong.

According to Scicurious at Neurotopia:

For many years now, scientists have been trying to come up with a reliable form of male contraceptive that…isn’t a condom. There’s a lot of burden on women when it comes to contraception (in terms of the pill, the ring, the patch, etc), and so for a while scientists have been looking for a way to give men more of an equal say. But hormones don’t appear to work very well.

So what did the scientists do? Polyester underpants. And they made the guys wear them for a whole year (the editrix pipes up: “ew, did they wear them during sex?!” we hope so.)

Apparently sperm are sensitive to polyester, but not cotton. And not only that, research had shown that men who wore polyester underpants had lower sperm counts than those who prefer their testicles to be enshrined behind other materials. Scicurious continues:

So one of the ways in which polyester might work to reduce sperm count would be by causing it to be too warm, and thus making it difficult for sperm to mature. And having your balls too warm is probably a better contraceptive option compared to sitting on ice to send your balls in the other direction.

The other reason, however, is a bit more odd: electrostatic charge. Apparently polyester rubbing up against the skin produces an electrostatic charge which could somehow prevent sperm maturation.

And not only that! They did this to dogs also. And the dogs wore them for two years. According to blogger Jason Goldman at The Thoughtful Animal:

For the polyester group, there were no real changes in testicular temperature. But there was a significant decrease in sperm count and in motile sperms, which are sperms that are good swimmers. The Michael Phelpses of the sperm-o-sphere. There was also a significant increase in abnormal sperm count. There were small but statistically insignificant changes in hormones during the experiment. The testicular biopsy showed degeneration in the seminiferous tubules. After the underwear was removed, sperm counts reached pre-experimental levels by the eleventh month in ten of the twelve dogs in that group.

For both the cotton group as well as the control group, there were no changes in any of the measured variables throughout the entire three years of the experiment.

… We thought polyester shirts were a pretty effective contraceptive to begin with. Right?

LEGAL: We here at Sex and the 405 hereby absolve ourselves of all liability from attempts to create an electrostatic potential across your, or your partner’s, testicles.

Image from: Shafik, A. (1992). Contraceptive efficacy of polyester-induced azoospermia in normal men Contraception, 45 (5), 439-451 DOI: 10.1016/0010-7824(92)90157-O via Neurotopia. Information from Scienceblogs.


Dick Feynman (@feynmandick) is a Los Angeles-based scientist, specializing in diluting scientific research findings into tasty, bite-sized bacon-flavored snacks for the unwashed masses.

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  • http://www.thankyouforyoursex.com Lena

    Wow. Every week I discover new gems thanks to @avflox. The diagram is, what is the right term…”rad”?


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