Considering they’re meant to be some symbol of ultimate manliness, testicles are delicate little brats, aren’t they? They try to kill you if you get kicked a bit too hard; they can’t cope with a little heat or magnets; heck, you can’t even have too much of a good time if you don’t want to risk the little guys shriveling up and going bad on you.
Which makes it all the more strange that dudes so often seem hell-bent on coming up with new and inventive ways to torture their knackers. We’ve had balls-sunning with Tucker Carlson; there was that weird trend of teabagging soy sauce; and now, we have – drum roll please – ICEBALLS.
No, we’re not using some cool new slang for the Winter Olympics, and we’re not talking about the German term for a scoop of gelato either. This is spine-tinglingly literal: for at least a year now, some biohacking bros have been using ice packs and cold showers to cool their testicles – all in a bid for higher testosterone levels, improved sperm quality, and a higher sex drive.
“Because heat is harmful for sperm quality, and as my wife and I were trying to have a baby, I decided to apply ice packs [for a few seconds at a time] on my testicles during the 15 minutes I spent in the sauna,” said Vlad, a filmmaker who, like Cher or Zendaya, eschews surnames.
“At first, it was sort of uncomfortable,” he told VICE. “But I rapidly grew fond of it, as it gives you a nice buzz and clears your mind.”
Now, it’s certainly true that too much heat is bad for your babymakers – that’s actually why they hang where they do, tempting fate in the cool air outside the body rather than nestled inside at body temperature. But that doesn’t mean going all Elsa on them is a smart move either, urologist Lye Diwa told VICE.
“Although there are small studies that would attest to cold temperature and improvement in sperm quality, there are no large clinical trials that would advise icing as a means to improve sperm count,” Diwa said.
See, the testicles should ideally be cooler than body temperature – but only by about 2.5°C. That might mean a nice pair of loose underpants is a good idea, but you don’t need to turn your nadgers into a pair of test-icicles for them to work at optimum capacity.
“Your testicles like the temperature a little cooler than your normal body temperature. But be careful about trying to cool your testicles too much,” points out Healthline. “Avoiding tight underwear and pants, as well as long soaks in a hot tub, can help you lower the risk of a low sperm count caused by overheating.”
Plus, there are risks to over-cooling your tool. “One big concern would be burns,” warned Siim Land, an author and ball-icer whose preferred method is a simple icy shower on the undercarriage. Others, many of whom take to Reddit to recount their testicular travails with online pals, prefer specialized ball-cooling products that claim to improve fertility, or just straight-up slap an ice pack on the old apricots – but Land advises against this latter technique.
“You probably don’t want to put the ice pack directly on the skin,” he told VICE. “That can burn the skin if it’s too cold.”
But as wince-inducing as that sentence sounds, there are still plenty of guys who apparently swear by this chilly routine – icy balls, they say, has boosted their mood and energy levels, increased their libido, improved their sleep, and even reduced the severity of their eczema. Could it really all be the placebo affect?
Well, in short, yes. And even the pro-testicle-icing crowd seem to acknowledge this: “I would say icing your testes definitely works, but I would make sure that you’re checking all the other boxes if you want sustained results,” said Alex Mikaelsson, an investment manager and ball-icer, in VICE.
Which makes sense, right? If you’re cooling your balls every day while also living well, eating healthily, going to the gym, and so on, you’ll probably feel pretty good – but let’s face it: it might not be the ball-cooling that’s entirely responsible for that.
Still, it’s hardly the worst thing that’s happened to balls in recent years. And neither is it the weirdest way they’ve been used to supposedly increase men’s, ahem, “vitality.”
What we guess we’re saying is this: icing your testicles may not do very much, but listen: at least it’s not goat balls.
(Please, for the love of god, nobody tell Reddit about goat balls.)