Statistics has it that approximately 80 % of all causes of infertility are preventable. This fact has indeed always been a good enough reason, and challenge, for my continuous strive towards elimination of the causes. Along these lines it struck me the other day that certain textiles used by the present-day7 industry to manufacture underwear could be generating electrostatic potentials on the surface of the human scrotum and induce harmful effects, if not infertility. This would compare to what has previously been said of microwaves and ultrasonic waves: Moseley1 and other investigators could demonstrate testicular damage and hypospermia as a result of exposure to non-ionizing radiation. I launched a series of investigations into this matter.
The first experiment2 distinctly demonstrated that dogs, when dressed in loosely fashioned polyester underpants, had a diminished sperm count which was reversible when the pants were removed; in contrast, a group of dogs wearing cotton pants showed insignificant semen changes.
This result called for the next study3: I looked into the details of the effect of textile fabrics on the spermatogenesis in 41 human volunteers (mean age 40.6 years). Eight subjects acted as controls, and 33 were divided into 3 equal groups: the first was dressed in loosely tailored pure polyester underpants, the second in pure cotton, and the third in a 50/50 cotton/polyester mix. The pants were worn continuously for 18 months during which the semen character, the testicular temperature, and the hormones (serum testosterone, FSH, LH, prolactin) were monitored. Testicular biopsy was taken when the semen showed an abnormal pattern. The pants were then removed, and the aforementioned investigations were repeated through another 12 months. There were insignificant changes in the testicular temperatures and serum hormones in all groups throughout the 30 months of experiment, and the cotton as well as the control group showed insignificant changes in the semen pattern during the test period. In contrast, the polyester group revealed a significant decrease in the sperm count of four volunteers by the 14th month and the testicular biopsy showed degenerative changes; the semen pattern normalized in one volunteer within four, and in three within 6 months after the pants had been removed. In the polyester/cotton mix group, one volunteer became oligospermic in the sixteenth month, but eight months after removal of the pants, returned to the pre-test level. This outcome left no doubt that polyester had a deleterious effect on the spermatogenesis in some volunteers which was reversible, however, when the pants were removed.
A subsequent experiment45 explored the impact of polyester from another aspect: loose polyester pants worn by human subjects were found to generate electrostatic charges of a mean of 338.9 ± 25 SD Volt/cm2, against a mean of 148.3 ± 16 SD Volt/cm2 if the pants were of a 50/50 polyester/cotton mix. This created an electrostatic field which traversed the scrotum and seemed to affect the testicle and/or the epididymis and lead to diminished spermatogenesis.
In this connection, the sexual activity of five groups (including controls) of 15 male rats was tested while they were wearing pants made of 100 % polyester, or 50/50 % polyester/cotton mix, or 100 % cotton, or 100 % wool. The rate of intromission to mounting (I/M) was found to drop significantly against the pre-test and control levels. The reduction was manifest in the polyester more than in the polyester/cotton mix group, and after 12 test months more than after six.
The results of these investigations seemed to offer the possibility to serve in –
Prevention of infertility: Polyester underwear is to be avoided because of its injurious effect of electrostatic potentials on the scrotum
Control of fertility: Polyester, by its electrostatic potentials, has proved to effectively induce reversible hypospermia, a fact which can be used as a means in fertility control.
Based on the findings of the above cited studies, as well as on two previous experiments6,7 using testicular suspension as a means of inducing diminished spermatogenesis by thermoregulatory disturbance, the feasibility of fertility control was explored: 14 volunteers applied a polyester suspensory sling to the scrotum for 12 months8. All men became azoospermic after approximately 4 ½ months. The testicular volume had decreased by thattime, and so had the difference between the rectal and testicular temperature. Semen reproductive hormones showed no significant change while the seminiferous tubules revealed degenerative changes. Pregnancies did not occur during this period. The polyester sling generated electrostatic potentials. Following the release of the testicles after 1 year of suspension, the sperm concentration returned to pre-test level in approximately 5 months; the testicular volume and the rectal-testicular temperature difference normalized. Five couples achieved the planned-for pregnancy.
These results are promising and could make for a good starting point to set out for a new alternative in non-surgical male contraception.