For a lot of people, attending a sex party would be considered pretty “out there.” Regular sex party goers have, by definition, seen more than their fair share of “out there” things, meaning that something pretty wild would have to transpire at such a gathering to make their jaws hang open. That was the thought that entered my head as I wandered into a room at a medical-themed play party held in a Brooklyn townhouse last fall and saw two dozen faces contorted into expressions of shock, wonder, repulsion, delight, and utter disbelief. In fact, a few of those faces appeared to be cycling through a sequence of all of these reactions in rapid succession.
With some trepidation, I tracked their gazes across the room and saw a man lying on a table with what appeared to be a cantaloupe wedged into his crotch. It took several beats to realize that it was not, in fact, a melon between his thighs but his actual scrotum. My eyes followed a thin tube that was attached to the bulging ball sack and saw that it was connected to an IV bag. It took a second before my mind could process that some sort of fluid was filling the man’s scrotum and, that the procedure was far from complete.
My date—who managed to make a backless medical gown and compression stockings look chic—and I watched for some time as the scrotum slowly and steadily increased in size. Terrified that the thing would at some point pop, I told her that I needed to be around the comparative safety and normalcy of the fuckpile beginning to form in the basement. ‘With everyone dressed as doctors, how would a real medical help be identified should a mishap take place?’ was a thought that crossed my mind as I began to feel queasy. (Ironically I would investigate a different and more long-lasting method for smoothing out my own man purse less than a year later.)
“I’m staying right here,” my date said, when I told her I’d had as much as I could take. “I have to feel it when it’s done. It’s…amazing!”
What we’d been witnessing was a scrotal infusion or scrotal inflation. An S.I. is a temporary body modification that results from saline—and in some cases air—being used to fill the scrotum. Some folks prefer do their own infusions while others—like the guy at the party—will place their trust in someone else.
I have a vague recollection of seeing a gallery of well-stuffed sacks on a long defunct website that a friend brought to my attention in the early aughts. After looking at the various presentations on monsternuts.com through my fingers, I quickly filed the phenomenon’s existence away in the back of my mind and didn’t think about the hows, whys, and wherefores of undergoing such a procedure until now.
There’s no generalizable reason that explains why people are drawn to fetishes or edge play like scrotal inflation, says New York City-based sexuality and relationship therapist Dulcinea Pitagora, aka the Kink Doctor. Pitagora tells me that, for some, it’s about the sensations of pain, stretching, and increased weight. For others, it’s about the idea of supersizing oneself or someone else—referring to when someone has a growing fetish and gets aroused at the idea of parts of the body or the entire body becoming larger than life.
“For many, I would say it's about power and control—often in combination with sensation play and/or aesthetic modification—for both the dominant or top who’s doing the inflation, and the submissive or bottom who’s receiving it,” Dulcinea says, adding that it takes a huge amount of trust to give up the control over a part of the body that’s thought of by many as a focal point of male sexuality and masculinity. “Since there is no way to actually attain the societal ideal of masculinity, it can be subconsciously or consciously satisfying to literally blow the construct out of proportion, in a way that’s safe and inconsequential.”
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‘Safe’ and ‘inconsequential’ are likely not the words used by anyone who’s waddled into an ER with any one of a number of issues that can arise from the practice of filling one’s sack with saline or air. These issues can include painful and debilitating conditions such as scrotal cellulitis as well as more serious, even deadly problems such as Fournier’s gangrene (a rare but life-threatening bacterial infection).
“The two main risks are infection and damage to the testicles themselves,” says New York City-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, who explains that cellulitis is an infection of the soft tissue and skin that requires antibiotics to prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body and become a serious medical condition. Zeichner also warns that if air gets into a blood vessel it could interfere with the delivery of nutrients through your blood cells. If blood is blocked from reaching the genitals, he adds, it can result in death of the skin known as gangrene.
If that’s not enough to have you appropriately cautious about making your nut sack as big as your head, there's that other, more spectacular outcome that I’d entertained at the party. “While it is rare, significant over inflation...can result in rupture of the scrotum itself,” he says, inviting us to think of this that same way we might think of over inflating a latex balloons.
Research from 2003 titled, “A complication of an unusual sexual practice” posited that the practice may be more widespread than expected, and referenced the case of a patient who presented with scrotal cellulitis after using a scrotal infusion kit purchased from the internet. The website salineinfusion.info dolefully reports that all of the US-based suppliers of infusion kits are all now out of business, though they can still be had from a Canadian medical supply company.
While figures illuminating how widespread the practice is are hard to come by, it appears there are enough people into it to support a company dedicated to making swimwear designed to accommodate saline filled scrota.
Still, finding someone to talk to me about what it’s like to have a liter or more of fluid in their scrotum has been tough. Similarly, people who have administered an infusion—including the person I saw doing it at the party—have been less than enthusiastic about talking with me. I did, however, get a chance to to speak with Atrina Brill who had been “topping” the scene I’d witnessed. (This means that she was the dominant partner, directing the scene.)
“I gravitate towards weird stuff,” she tells me. “The weirder the better.”
Brill goes on to explain that, in a party setting, much of the appeal of a scrotal infusion for the recipient is having one’s temporarily modified body part looked at, inspected, or even felt by other people. “Part of me topping the scene involved leading him around the room and showing off his giant balls,” she says.
Indeed, when I caught up with my date later that evening, she proudly reported that she was not only allowed to feel his expanded scrotum, she even managed to satisfy her overwhelming urge to lick his newly taut bag. I didn’t see the guy myself until about an hour or two afterwards. When I did, he was shining a flashlight through his sack, turning it to a glowing, orange-hued, and veiny orb, delighting of a gaggle of fascinated party goers.
“How long did it stay big?” I ask Brill.
“He was pretty much back to normal by the middle of the following day,” she says adding that even larger amounts of fluid are usually absorbed and excreted by the body in one to two days.
As Tonic’s resident lab rat, I tend to say yes to to pretty much anything my editors dream up. As luck would have it, I’ve already had the furrows taken out of my scrotum for one Yes Man column, and so the drive for me to go out and grow a pair was, on this occasion, somewhat muted. While spending 24 to 48 hours as a baller would have been somewhat novel, the complications—as uncommon as they may be—were decidedly unsavory.
This article originally appeared on Tonic.