Sperm Banking

banking sperm

Peter Bovolaneas chose to look into sperm banking on the advice of his doctors.  As a two-time testicular cancer survivor who knew he wanted a family from a young age, he was thankful the option of sperm banking was available and offered to him before his treatment.  

Peter Bovolaneas sperm banking

Peter has also been a spokesperson for Testicular Cancer Canada and is currently a mentor and spokesperson for Young Adults Cancer Canada.  Peter feels compelled to share his survivor story publicly in order to help bring awareness to the disease and to encourage early detection. He is determined to show young people that even though cancer may “suck”, you should always live your life to its fullest, no matter what your medical history or prognosis might look like. Peter’s enthusiasm and zest for life is unparalleled.  

Watch Peter’s story in our documentary series Balls.
 
Testicular cancer is a very treatable disease if caught early.  And it doesn’t mean that someone who wants to be a father can’t have that option if they are able to bank sperm prior to treatment.

Egg storage for IVF
Egg storage for IVF

Early diagnoses is particularly challenging when it comes to this particular cancer because it mostly effects male teenagers and young men, who are typically very guarded when it comes to talking about health and their private parts.  To help trigger this conversation, as we have done in our documentary Balls, Testicular Cancer Canada uses comedy to address the disease and to create a healthy dialogue for men.  Young men tend to respond to humor.
 
Check out these hilarious and attention “grabbing” (pun intended) public service announcements from Testicular Cancer Canada:

I can’t stress enough how important it is to target young men and to get them to check their testicles for irregularities on a regular basis, like most women do for breast exams.  Men need to take ownership of their testicular health.  Just check ‘em, cause nobody else will; not a cop, nor a mechanic and certainly not your mom.  The PSAs above really drive the point home.  They make you giggle, but they also make you think.
 
It should be noted that chemotherapy, radiation therapy and subsequent cancer surgeries can effect sperm production and sperm health. That said, if you have any inkling that you might want to have children, you should consider sperm banking ASAP.

Because Peter wants to have kids, he decided to bank his sperm before each orchiectomy (the surgical removal of one or both testicles).  Peter and Adolfo (his fiancé) will be getting married this fall and hope to be fathers in the very near future.  Their wedding is going to be a “Big Fat Greek/ Italian Wedding” with a huge guest list and a food menu what will go on for days!  Peter’s only sadness around the approaching wedding date is that his father recently passed away from cancer and will not be there.  Cancer sucks.

Adolfo and Peter sperm banking
For more information about testicular cancer, check out the Testicular Cancer Canada website, and remember to check ‘em, especially if you are young man between the ages of 15-35.

Learn how to do a self-check with Johnny Rapid in this video.

Testicle Implants

Testicle Implants

After losing a testicle (or two), due to cancer, infection, injury or torsion, do you consider getting testicle implants?  What if you are a trans-man?  According to our documentary subjects, the opinions vary and are split down the middle.

To replace, or not to replace.  This is the question.
 
In the case of Matt Perry, who lost his testicle to testicular torsion, he has no interest in replacing the excided ball with a testicle implants.  Now in his fifties, Matt had his ball removed in his early twenties because the twisted testicle had cut off all blood supply to his left nut rendering it dead.  Not only is testicular torsion a medical emergency but it is also very difficult to diagnose.  If the diagnosis and “un-twisting” is not made within the first 8 hours, the testicle will likely be lost.  

Matt’s trauma of undergoing an orchiectomy over 25 years ago is so great, that the thought of having to undergo surgery once again to have testicle implants is even further traumatizing. Besides, he is much older now and in a long-term committed relationship with a partner who is comfortable and supportive of Matt’s body.  Matt jokes, “If you could click your fingers and have testicle implants with no effort required, I would probably do that”. Sadly, it is not that simple.
 

Siavash, on the other hand, who also lost a testicle to torsion in more recent years, is definitely considering re-balancing his body with testicle implants.  As a younger man in his late twenties, he would like his body to look more symmetrical.  At the moment, he is researching clinics and doctors.
 
For Peter Bovolaneas, who lost both testicles to cancer, it was a no brainer.  He was thankful for the modern day medical technology and elected to get 2 prosthetic testicle implants.  Peter is a remarkable human being who has such a great sense of humor and amazing coping skills.

Sometimes when he is out at the bars, he will approach acquaintances (who do not know his testicular history) and ask them to flick his balls.  If he doesn’t flinch, they buy him a drink; if Peter flinches, he buys the drink.  It’s a win-win situation for tipsy Peter, leaving the “flicker” scratching his or her head.  

It should also be noted that Peter, who presents as a VERY masculine/muscular man, can no longer produce testosterone because both testicles were removed due to cancer. Because of this fact, Peter must inject himself with testosterone every 2 weeks to maintain sex drive, bone mass, muscle mass and mental health.  He humorously accepts this shot in the buttocks as his “pain in the ass”.

Peter takes testosterone because without biologically intact testicles, as a man he needs it.  This is different than when men with functioning testicles take testosterone for purely aesthetic reasons.

The decision to get testicle implants after the required removal of one or both balls really comes down to choice and comfort.  And as Maggie Cassella jokes, “I’m not going to judge a guy for getting a fake ball any more than I’m going to judge a woman for getting a fake boob. It’s your choice and we have the technology!”

testicle implants sizingDifferent sizes of testicle implants are measured against the patient’s real testicles to get as close a match as possible.
 testicle-implants-sizing-indianapolis-dr-barry-eppley
There are different types of prosthetic testicle implants.  The ultimate goal is to match the prosthetic as much as possible to the remaining, natural testicle.  Testicular prostheses are made of silicone gel or saline (salt water) with a silicone rubber covering.  The surgeon makes a small incision in the lower groin where the prosthesis is inserted and then placed in the empty scrotum and secured with a stitch, or suture. You can usually go home the same day of the surgery.  Often testicular prosthesis surgery can be done at the same time as the orchiectomy, or during a later surgery.  It all depends on what the patient wants.

As a trans-man, Carey is not interested in getting prosthetic testicle implants.  His genitals do not define his masculinity, though he jokingly claims to have “psychic balls”.  Interestingly enough, once Carey started to take testosterone, his genitals started to change.  His clitoris and labia started to grow, so much so that he often feels as though he has a penis and balls.

Testicular Self-Exam video with Johnny Rapid

testicular self-exam video

Learn how to do a monthly step-by-step check-up on your balls with this NSFW testicular self-exam video starring Johnny Rapid.

We have been exploring all things related to Balls and if the topic interests you, I invite you to read some of our other articles and watch the documentary for further insight.

Some of the topics we look at include the importance of etymology, that is being specific in the words we use, like in the case of gender reassignment and gender confirmation.

Beyond testicular cancer, we discover lesser known complications a person can have with testicles such as testicular torsion or varicocele. 

We even speak with some drag queens to discover just where the balls go when they tuck.

It’s easy to do so there’s no excuses!   Just follow along in this NSFW testicular self-exam video and do what Johnny does.

JOHNNY RAPID: My balls are my moneymaker so it’s important that I check them at least once a month to make sure they’re in prime condition.

So, how do I check that my balls are ready to play and stay that way? Pull your pants down guys and go through the steps with me to make sure your balls are healthy and strong.

Check your testicles just after you’ve had a bath or shower. When the muscles in the scrotum are relaxed making it easier for you to feel any lumps, growths or tenderness.

Stand in front of a mirror. Look for any swelling on the skin of your scrotum. Hold your scrotum in your hands and feel the size and weight of each testicle. Don’t worry if one ball is a little bigger or one hangs lower than the other that’s normal.

Feel each ball and roll it between your thumb and finger. It should feel smooth, it’s normal to feel a soft, tender tube towards the back of each testicle, that’s where your sperm are made. You shouldn’t feel any pain when checking your testicles.

Once you get to know your balls keep an eye out for any changes If you detect a change, don’t freak out just see a doctor as soon as possible.

My balls have stayed the same since my last self exam so that means I’m ready to go to work. Make sure you check your balls at least once a month and if you notice any changes go see your doctor right away.

If you would like to know more, please check out the film, Balls.

You can also watch Balls on Vimeo, Amazon, or on the Border2Border Store.

Working with Johnny Rapid to make the Testicular Self-Exam video was definitely fun but it wasn’t a ‘one take wonder’.  Take a look at some of the goof ball antics that we went through to get the video.