Varicocele – a unique kind of testicle

Adam Graham varicocele

Like varicose veins in the legs, varicocele is an abnormal enlargement of the veins in the scrotum.

Let’s be honest, we are body obsessed, even when it comes to our balls.  Balls “should” be oval shaped and smooth.  When they don’t conform to the norm, we worry, we question why, we keep quiet and hope no one notices.  “Let’s have a beer and forget about it”.
 
Like varicose veins in the legs, varicocele is an abnormal enlargement of the veins in the scrotum. Often painful, varicocele might even cause infertility, as we discovered in our documentary, Balls, as in the case of our courageous documentary subject Adam.  

Adam Graham varicocele

After taking part in a medical study during his undergraduate degree, Adam donated some of his semen and found out that, in his own words, his “sperm was dead”.  Adam jokingly compares his left testicle to an “asteroid”, because it looks enlarged and misshapen.  Aside from infertility, other symptoms of testicular varicocele might include: an aching or dragging like pain, heaviness in the testicle, shrinking of the testicle and benign prostatic hyperplasia (noncancerous increase in size of the prostate).

Get to know your balls. Go step-by-step watching this NSFW testicular self-exam video with Johnny Rapid.


Adam considered surgery to remove the varicose veins in his scrotum, but decided against it because he is a gay man that is not interested in having children.  Though at times his varicocele is physically sensitive to touch or sexual play, he has lived with this condition for most of his adult life and doesn’t see the benefit of going under the knife.  He is also in a supportive relationship with his partner Philip who has no issue with Adam’s “misshapen” ball.  Philip loves Adam exactly as he is.  Adam is lucky.

As men, particularly gay men, we are obsessed with our physical presence.  In another episode of Balls we explore the use of anabolic steroids and how men physically transform their bodies through its use with often disastrous side effects.

Jeremy from I'm a Stripper.
Jeremy from I’m a Stripper.

We aspire to a physical ideal that is unattainable. We are constantly and unsuccessfully trying to transform and mutilate our bodies to fit a singular, perfect mold that only exists in some sadistic Greek god’s fantasy.   For more on this explore our documentary STUDlebrity.

I am no exception.  Though to date I have not been on a course of steroids nor have I had any testicular ailments that I am aware of, I did recently remove 12 moles from my torso.  Granted, some of these moles needed to be removed for health reasons, but the majority of them were removed strictly based on aesthetics.  

Nico Stagias - Director of PhotographyI have too many moles and they look ugly. I’ve struggled with my ugly moles all my life and finally decided to do something about it.  I figured, since I was removing 4 moles, why not remove another 8 unsightly, lumpy marks off my body.  While on the operating table and feeling the pull of my skin being sliced off, I started to panic and have regrets.

This didn’t feel good, emotionally and physically. Why am I putting myself though additional trauma for the sake of vanity? I’ve never had any part of my body removed, including my foreskin, of which I am very proud of (I have a lot of foreskin pride and always encourage parents not to mutilate their young baby boys). Now recovering from my minor surgery, in loo of my large moles, I have large unsightly scars in their stead.  Sadly, I’m no closer to this perfect/ flawless body.  In fact, I’m left humbled, a little embarrassed and further flawed.  I’m embarrassed to tell friends and family why I had this procedure done.  I think I’m sticking to the story of having been in a knife fight.  It will make me appear strong and courageous. 😉   So manly!
 
I guess I should have listened to my Greek mother.  She refers to my ugly moles as “beautiful olives”.  Either a mother’s love is blind, or she can see our true physical beauty, no matter how ugly we think we might be.  Vulnerability is beautiful.  Being different is beautiful.  Being flawed is beautiful.  Thanks Mom.  I’ll be sure to have a chat with you next time I’m considering the operation table for elective surgery. 

~ Nico Stagias, Balls director & cinematographer at Border2Border Entertainment.

Dive deeper into the Balls documentary with director Nico Stagias in this interview.

WATCH the unblurred, unbleeped, balls out version of the Balls documentary on Border2Border Entertainment.

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Gender Confirmation

gender confirmation

For LGBTQ people, coming out is a huge step in the process towards self-love and validation.  For someone representing the T in that acronym, gender confirmation surgery may be the ultimate step in becoming their most authentic self.  Thankfully in many countries around the world this hurtle is becoming easier to overcome as our societies become more educated and less discriminatory.

However there are still too many stories of verbal and physical abuse, abandonment and stigma.  That’s why for me sharing stories is so important.  It’s a small step that can help educate and hopefully even trigger empathy.

When our hearts begin to empathize with people we previously considered strangers or incompatible with our own set of social constructs – that’s progress and it can be incredibly powerful.

Though I am a gay man, in my younger years I admit to not understanding how the T fit into the LGBT community.  For that matter I didn’t understand how a person would want to confirm or reassign their gender.

That’s because my perspective was limited and empathy hadn’t entered the equation.  At that point I had not met anyone who had transitioned genders or was considering it face to face.  My knowledge on the subject was limited and my capacity for empathy was also meager.  The opportunity for honest and direct communication is sometimes the most powerful motivation for changed behavior or attitudes.

I am cis male. I look and represent myself to the world in our society’s current and traditional construct of what a man is and/or should be.  I’m very comfortable in my maleness and my body.  I’m at home in jeans, t-shirts and a ball cap.  I’ve sported a beard for over two decades, simply because I’m most comfortable this way.  The fact that my physicality and way of interacting with the world is in alignment with the expectations of the gender I was born means that I operate in a position of privilege.  And as soon as we are able to recognize the unique positions of privilege we each have, it creates an opportunity to look outward and exercise our minds and hearts to be more empathetic.

Essentially I’m an urban bear or lumbersexual if you want to toss some loose labels on me though I prefer not to be packaged because I always find it becomes limiting and never fully represents who I am, my interests and most importantly who I may evolve to be and haven’t even imagined yet.

And that potential for evolution within a person is what I’d like for you to consider today.

In what ways have you changed in your existence thus far?

Have you had to come out to friends or family in one or more aspects of your life?

Is there another revelation you’d like to explore and share with the world?

How does your most authentic and best self look, behave and interact with the world?

Have you had a conversation with someone considering or who has had gender confirmation surgery?

With some of those thoughts in mind, I invite you to watch the latest video in our men’s health series, Balls.  This episode features Danica, a woman of incredible strength, love and resilience.  With Danica as our guide we take a very personal journey to discover gender confirmation.

We have two episodes with Danica within this series so be sure to sign up for my newsletter and subscribe to my YouTube channel so you won’t miss this incredible story.

 

 

If you’d like to start at the beginning of our exploration of men’s health, please check out these other articles and videos.

Balls Documentary – Director Discussion

April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month

Gender Reassignment 

You can watch the documentary in its entirety on Vimeo, Amazon, YouTube or right here.

Balls – avec le réalisateur Nico Stagias

Nico Stagias - Director of Photography

Nico Stagias est le réalisateur du BALLS.

I’m a StripperStudlebrity.  Bump!  Positive YouthI’m a PornstarBalls. Tous des titres de films auxquels Nico Stagias a contribué. Que ce soit en tant que réalisateur, monteur ou cinématographe, il est toujours dans son élément. Alliez ses vastes talents à ceux du tout autant talentueux Charlie David, et vous avez là toute une paire… jeu de mots inclus.

 

Nico Stagias raconte qu’il a une longue et belle histoire de travail avec Charlie David. Après s’être rencontrés sur le plateau de la série de voyage « Bump! », ils se sont tout de suite liés d’amitié avant de passer quatre saisons à filmer cette émission. « Une série de voyage est définitivement un bon indicateur de compatibilité sur un plateau. Nous aimons tous les deux voyager et découvrir le monde par nous-mêmes. »

 

« Balls », a été initialement pensé par Patrick Ware, le partenaire de vie de Charlie David, en 2014. Lorsque Charlie David a partagé l’idée avec Nico Stagias, ce dernier a tout de suite était conquis. « Nous travaillons habituellement à deux et partageons toutes les responsabilités (outre la caméra), de la pré- à la post-production. Nous faisons une excellente équipe. Pour ce qui est de « Balls », le père de Charlie est décédé subitement. Sans une once d’hésitation, il a pris le premier avion pour la Saskatchewan et y est resté un mois pour s’assurer que sa famille allait bien. C’est ce que j’adore de Charlie et la raison pour laquelle nous nous entendons si bien. Il a le sens des priorités.»

 

REGARD Balls ici:

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Après la fin de Bump!, Nico Stagias et Charlie David savaient qu’ils souhaitaient continuer à voir le monde à travers leur vision commune. « Notre premier projet ensemble a été «Positive Youth », un documentaire sur les taux accrus d’infection au VIH chez les jeunes d’Amérique du Nord. Depuis, nous avons eu notre juste part de documentaires sur des strip-teaseurs, des beaux gosses et des vedettes du porno. »

 

Durant des études de langues et de littérature au collège Dawson, Nico Stagias a pris un cours complémentaire sur l’histoire du cinéma et a immédiatement su qu’il voulait faire partie de ce monde. « J’ai eu des tonnes de boulots liés aux films et aux vidéos, de coupeur de négatifs (du temps où les films étaient captés sur celluloïd) jusqu’à monter les nouvelles matinales pour Global Television. Mes premiers contrats de tournage, de montage et de réalisation étaient des collaborations avec le monde de la danse moderne. Il n’y a rien de tel que l’expérience de lier la forme d’art cinétique de la danse à la forme d’art du film. Jusqu’à ce jour, je garde un faible pour les vidéos de danse. »

 

Quand il s’agit du sujet de leurs projets de collaboration, les deux talents ont tendance à suivre leurs intérêts. « Puisque nous vendons nos documentaires à des chaînes de télévision, nous essayons de trouver la bonne combinaison pour la station à laquelle nous nous adressons. Bien souvent, nous trouvons preneur pour les titres plus accrocheurs et provocants. » Très motivé par la facette queer en tant que culture opprimée, Nico Stagias considère qu’il est important d’explorer les différentes voix de l’expérience queer. « Nous avons beau avoir le mariage gai au Canada depuis 16 ans, nous souffrons encore d’homophobie manifeste, surtout lorsqu’on parle de questions trans et de la stigmatisation liée au VIH, notamment chez les minorités queer visibles. »

 

Quand il vient en arrive à ses influences personnelles, il dit être est inspiré par les gens queer de son coin, récemment attiré par l’histoire d’Everett Klippert, un homme de la Saskatchewan qui, en 1965, a été condamné à la prison à vie parce qu’il était homosexuel. Le gouvernement libéral actuel essaie de faire des réparations aux hommes comme lui et à leurs familles. « C’est une partie importante et fascinante de notre histoire queer canadienne. »

 

Nico Stagias espère que le public appréciera les projections de « Balls » à Never Apart. Instructif et, à certains égards, un documentaire sérieux, la santé testiculaire n’est pas toujours matière à rire. « Il est important de ne pas oublier le côté léger de toutes choses. J’espère que l’audience en ressortira plus sensibilisée face aux testicules et que les testicules sont beaux, que vous en ayez, en aviez ou ne vous en serviez pas du tout. Aimez vos couilles et les couilles des autres. »

 

 Written by Mikela Jay for NeverApart.com