Scrotox. If you're thinking that it sounds like a portmanteau of scrotum and Botox, you're right. An immediate follow up thought might be, "why would anyone want a neurotoxin injected into their ball sack?" That's certainly what I was pondering when I skimmed a headline suggesting that, like fidget-spinning and saying "all the feels," this is a thing people are inexplicably doing nowadays.
Without much forethought, I injected Scrotox into a long list of more reasonable things to do for this series, purely because I thought my editors would find it funny. They were highly amused at the thought of me actually going through with it. I suppose I'd find it funny too if the tender nuts being stabbed with syringes full of botulinum—an acutely lethal toxin—weren't attached to me.
Botox and other neurotoxins in the same class are injected into the body to relax muscles. For cosmetic use, they are FDA-approved to relax the facial muscles we use to smile, frown, and, in more recent times, react to the President's 6 am toilet tweets. This partial and temporary muscle paralysis reduces the appearance of wrinkles in the forehead and around the eyes. Given its hyper-wrinkly appearance, it was only a matter of time (plus late capitalism) before the idea of smoothing out ballbags would occur to enterprising minds. That's right: People are paying top dollar for smoother scrota.
A quick reminder for these people: "The wrinkles on your face are not there to protect you—your face just wrinkles as you age," says Seth Cohen, a practicing urologist and professor of urology at NYU Langone Health in New York, who reports that many of his patients have inquired about Scrotox. "The wrinkles on your scrotum are there because they're functional. They protect you from injury and help your testicles to safely produce sperm."
In humans, the scrotum houses the testicles. The testes produce sperm that, once they find their way to an egg, make more humans because apparently there aren't nearly enough of us. The higher the quality and quantity of a man's sperm, the greater the likelihood that his genes will be passed on.
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But the conditions for making lots and lots of awesome sperm have to be just so, in particular the temperature. The optimal temperature for sperm production is 35 degrees celsius, or about 95 degrees fahrenheit. The core temperature of the human body, however, is 37 degrees celsius or about 98.6 degrees fahrenheit. This inconvenient truth is why human males and all other land-based boreoeutherian male mammals (except rhinoceroses, interestingly) are carrying around their most valuable assets in a funny little purse seemingly made from leftover elbow skin that dangles vulnerably between the legs.
Complicating matters further: The temperature around us and our gonads is fluctuating all the time, meaning that the testicles are constantly being let out and reeled in to keep them in the Goldilocks Zone. You could think of the scrotum as an evolutionary adaptation analogous to sticking one leg out of the covers whenever it gets too hot.
But a fluctuating temperature isn't the only reason for the scrotal cinching, and testicular ups and downs. The testicles also retract when there's danger afoot—a fight or flight response—and just prior to ejaculation. The cremaster and dartos muscles are what keep the nuts where they need to be, from a biological-imperative perspective. "During heavy activity such as bike riding, running, exercising, the scrotum is relaxing and contracting all the time, to keep the testicles protected from trauma," Cohen says. "So if you relax the scrotum [with botox] the function of the cremasteric muscle is not working, then you're putting your testicles at risk for trauma."
Scotox basically undoes millions of years of evolution by putting these muscles into sleep mode, giving patients a less wrinkly, lower hanging scrotum for as long as the Botox does its thing, which is between three and four months on average.
Despite the fact that it could mess with the balls' glorious natural function, "the people are wanting the testicles of the bulldog," explains plastic surgeon John Mesa shortly after greeting me in his New York office. "Balls that are smoother yes, but also lower, larger-seeming, with the swinging and the slapping for the sexual excitations for the man and his partner."
This last assertion is backed up by a female friend of mine. "There's something to be said for being slapped in the cunt by free-swinging balls," she says when I ask her about the virtues of lower-hanging fruit. "There's the sheer impact, which is nice, but it also delivers a skin-on-skin feeling that you lose with condoms."
Mesa adds that some more tightly packed scrotum owners experience pain when, due to cold temperatures, their balls elevate and the skin around them contracts. For these people—and guys with excessively sweaty 'nads—Scrotox aims to be a solution to a medical problem.
With a pleasantly thick Colombian accent, form-fitting navy suit, golden tan, wry smile and calm demeanor, Mesa is the epitome of charm. In fact, as he shows me before and after pictures of one of his patients, his charisma is just about the only thing keeping me from running for the door. On the left: a perfectly normal-looking set of bollocks. To the right: a pair of low-hanging clangers that lazily hang more than an inch closer to the floor than the penis that precedes them. This Botoxed scrotum looked exactly how master comedian Dave Attell described the look of his nutsack: like a tent that no one knows how to fold up. This is not a look I hankered for.
At this point, it's worth mentioning that while I have plenty of physical features that I actively dislike, my testicles and scrotum are not among them. In fact, I think they're awesome. This is a point of view that has been echoed by several partners, one of whom flies in from Singapore twice yearly to nuzzle them for long periods of time.
Put simply, they're high, tight, neat and any ornithologist worth his or her salt would immediately note my scrotum's similarity to the inflated chest of a male magnificent frigatebird (Fregata magnificens). To highlight my pleasantly plump and tightly-packed man-purse, I fastidiously depilate and slather with coconut oil daily. But when I took it out for Mesa to assess, he remarked not on what my scrotum looked like but what was going on inside it.
"You have very active musculature," he says. "The balls…they are moving a lot."
I've always known this about myself. When I disrobe in front of a new partner, a life-drawing class, a doctor, my balls flip, roll, and squirm—trying to hide like a pair of shy toddlers behind their mother's legs. Like the toddlers, they soon get used to, then revel in the attention of others, but it usually takes a few seconds until they are ready to socialize.
"Does this mean that I'll need more Botox than most people?" I ask.
"Yes," says Mesa with an apologetic smile. "I think so."
I then asked Mesa a rather more serious question:
"Won't having lower, larger-looking balls make my penis look smaller?"
"I think that yes, it maybe could," he says. "But you will have lower hanging balls like…"
"The bulldog?" I ask.
"Yes! Like the bulldog!" he says as if that's some sort of positive trade off.
While Mesa draws a connection between low-hanging balls and canines, I tend to associate long-ass balls with the old geezers I see in the changing room at my YMCA. While I while away hours wishing that I had a penis the size of the eggplant that I so often use to symbolize it, never once have I coveted a scrotum that looks like a pair of jade eggs dropped into the foot of some thrift-store nylons.
For those who have, though, some experts remind us that droppage is a normal function of the scrotum, even without the 'tox shots. "Unless you're having sex in an icebox—cold temperature causes the testicles to contact into the abdomen for heat—when you're naked and in a warm climate during sexual activity, the scrotum should descend normally as temperates start to rise," Cohen says. "But it is what it is. It's 2017. We do funny things in the name of vanity and in the name of pleasurable sexual activity."
Back at the office, I am genuinely rattled as Mesa began slathering my genitals with what he tells me was a triple-concentrated anesthetic cream. He adds that he will add a generous amount to minimize my discomfort but an anesthetized set of fun parts is, it turns out, acutely uncomfortable. I'm uncomfortably numb—a seemingly apt precursor to shots that will further "relax" my junk.
"Remember that botox is an enzyme that paralyzes muscles," Cohen says. "So there are guidelines for where you're putting the botox and for how much botox you can get every few months." He warns that if you surpass that amount and it gets into your bloodstream, you're at risk of paralysis and even heart and lung problems.
Twenty-five tense minutes elapse before the cream has numbed me completely, allowing Mesa to begin administering the shots from ten or so syringes lined up on a table. He tells me that, at most, each will feel like a mosquito bite, which leads me to wonder about the size of the mosquitos Mesa is used to in his native Medellin.
The discomfort gets a little more intense as he goes along, and reaches its zenith when my hyperactive bollocks necessitate him jabbing deeper into the muscles that surround them. I lose count of how many injections are administered, but after about ten minutes I'm all done. Botox takes several days to work, so I leave his office with my bollocks numbed, slightly bruised, but in the same location as they were when I went in.
Five days later, the first change I notice is a textural one. The skin feels a little different. Not smoother really, but more papery. The smoothness came a few days later, when I looked down at my balls after getting out of bed and noticed that they looked like they do after a long session in a 104-degree hot tub. Over the next few days my nuts loosened further until they hung at about the same length as the tip of my penis. My scrotum was indeed smoother. It looked less like a brain, cinched tight enough to grate a carrot on, and more like a couple of smooth, round river rocks swaying in a silk handkerchief.
Luckily for me, my lower-hanging balls didn't make my penis look smaller as I'd feared. In fact, their more relaxed position seemed to allow my penis to hang straight down as opposed to being pushed out at an angle at all times. A regular partner remarked favorably on how much bigger my rig looked. Lower hanging within a roomier scrotum, she said that my plums were also more satisfying to handle, like baoding balls—those Chinese chiming balls used for stress relief—and she rather enjoyed the feel of rolling them around in her hand. I must say, I did too.
Despite having suggested Scrotox as a joke and regretting it before, during, and after the procedure, I have to say that I love my bolder, bigger-seeming, free-swinging, loosey-goosey balls. I like the way they look, feel, and the new dimension they lend to sex. When the botox wears off and my balls begin to tighten once more, I may even decide to visit Mesa once again….though I probably won't arrange a date later that evening.
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