A Case Study into the effects of light-based Hair Removal on male sperm
It is commonplace nowadays for men to seek the removal of hair from their man bits. The reasons vary and are irrelevant. Surprisingly though, there is little information - at least none that is searchable in the public domain - about the effects of hair removal on fertility in men.
Instead, the blanket policy at 99% of hair removal studios and beauty salons is "We don't do it".
Practitioners will cite many reasons, but they aren't true. Forgive the slightly militant preamble that follows, but it is necessary to get your head around the reasons why the subject is so taboo.
Lack of proper training or scientific research
In Australia, the hair removal industry is largely unregulated. One can buy a machine and without the least training or qualifications, call themselves a hair removal specialist. Some therapists receive training from the equipment manufacturer, while others undertake what they no doubt believe is an adequate certified course by an accredited RTO.
In reality though, the courses on offer in Australia are woefully abysmal. They are money farms, little more, and the resultant skills learned are rife with inaccuracies, misinformation, and bias towards one machine manufacturer over another. They certainly do not adequately prepare a student to operate as an independent thinking therapist in the hair removal industry.
Amongst the vast stew of misinformation is the subject of male genitalia. This is where the culture of "We don't do it" begins. This is what therapists are taught from day one. When these training institutions are pressed to give reason, they cover themselves by citing damage to the reproductive organs. When then pushed for evidence, they come up blank. "Look it up on the internet," I'm advised, "You'll find heaps of evidence".
No. All I found was thousands of places around the globe spouting exactly the same doctrine, and no proof, no case studies, no record of even one man's fertility being compromised or even linked to being compromised by a hair removal treatment.
Anti-male dogma in the beauty industry
The Australian Beauty Industry is arguably the most sexist industry in the world. The sad truth is that refusing to perform beauty treatments of any sort on men is very much an inherent part of its culture.
This refusal has nothing to do with science, and everything to do with the average therapist not wanting to look at men's unmentionables, let alone handle them. The beauty colleges and training companies know this, and indeed, reinforce this message to students.
Why shouldn't they? After all, the girls don't want to do the treatments anyway.
In fact, most beauty therapists don't want to perform genital hair removal at all - not even on women. This truth is now reflected in training companies recommending that hair removal not be performed near the labia or clitoris. Evidence of problems? Again, there's none.
In the absence of logic or sound argument from any governing authority, it seems more apparent than ever that policies circulating around the industry are designed purely to protect the timidity of beauty therapists who don't want to perform Brazilians, whether it be on males or females.
For the sake of this article, I'm casting aside their timidity. They'll shake their perfectly coiffed heads and stamp their pretty pedicured feet, but I don't care. I'm assuming that you as a reader are a grown-up and that you're comfortable with the sight of and discussion of your genitalia.
As someone actively working in the industry, and without an authority of reference, I realised that my only available course was to conduct case studies to determine the effects of light based treatments on sperm count, and that the only way I could do this ethically and reliably, was on myself.
CASE STUDY 1: I performed the first series at Reef Beauty Brisbane between September 2006 and April 2007. I performed a full treatment each month of penis, scrotum, perineum, anus, and pubis. For this series of tests, I used an air-cooled Chromolite S IPL machine at 30 Joules with a universal skin filter. The result which I measured was sperm concentration. Samples were collected 2 days after each treatment and tested by Queensland Medical Laboratories.
CASE STUDY 2: With the advent of more high powered machines and better filters, I performed a second series of case studies in late 2009. Additionally, I wanted to measure total sperm count as well as concentration to test for the effect on fluid volume. The areas treated were the same as the first test, however conducted one week apart instead of one month. As I had scheduled a vasectomy in December, the prospect of harming my sperm was of no concern, while presenting the perfect opportunity to create the most extreme scenario. For this series of tests, I used an air-cooled GSD 666 PTF machine at 60 Joules and no skin filter.
2006 Case Study
Prior to first treatment:
September 2006: 19.5 million
October 2006: 18.5 million
November 2006: 19.0 million
December 2006: 20.0 million
January 2007: 20.0 million
February 2007: 21.0 million
March 2007: 19.5 million
April 2007: 19.5 million
2009 Case Study
Prior to first treatment:
19.5 million/300 million
9 October 2009: 19.5 million/300 million
16 October 2009: 16.0 million/250 million
23 October 2009: 17.0 million/255 million
30 October 2009: 17.0 million/240 million
6 November 2009: 18.5 million/320 million
13 November 2009: 18.0 million/280 million
20 November 2009: 20.5 million/290 million
27 November 2009: 19.0 million/290 million
In the first case study, there is little fluctuation. Of note however is that the setting was low, and on a beauty grade IPL machine using a very strong filter.
In the second case study, there is a marked decrease after the second treatment then a return to normal levels over subsequent treatments. Of note in the second study is that treatments were fast tracked to a week apart instead of a month, and that the setting was very high without any filters, and on a high powered medical grade machine.
This was an extreme and painful and risky test that no responsible therapist would dare replicate on a member of the public.
The results indicate a temporary reduction in sperm count and volume following a light-based hair removal treatment, then an eventual return to normal, not too dissimilar from the effects of sitting in a hot bath. The results need to be read in context though. These case studies were conducted on only one person who had high range sperm and volume counts to begin with.
Since 2005, I have conducted several thousand genital hair removal treatments on men. Many of these clients fathered children during their course of treatments and/or afterwards. None have informed me of an adverse reaction in regards to sperm count, sperm volume, pain, or penile dysfunction.
While the findings of my case studies combined with observations of clients who have undertaken treatments indicate no significant negative impact on the health of sperm, the purpose of this article is not to suggest that light based treatments are completely safe, or that they may have the opposite effect and improve your sperm count. Both are suppositions and unfounded.
Indeed this article is not intended to convince you one way or the other about receiving a genital hair removal treatment. The decision is yours alone and should not be taken lightly if you intend to have children one day.
If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to call or use the handy online form on the contacts page.
Have a brilliant day.