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  • Vishal Narayan

Researchers find microplastics in human penises; may be connected to ED

Researchers have found the presence of microplastic in human penises, raising concerns about the connection between the presence of the foreign material and erectile dysfunction in men. 

The study collected samples from six men diagnosed with erectile dysfunction who were undergoing treatment for ED. 

Five of these six samples were found to have contained different kinds of microplastics. 

The study, published in International Journal of Impotence Research, was conducted at University of Miami between August and September 2023.

The objective of the study was to assess the prevalence of microplastics in penile tissue. 

Researchers collected tissue samples from six individuals who underwent surgery for a multi-component inflatable penile prosthesis (IPP). 

The samples revealed the presence of seven types of microplastics, with polyethylene terephthalate, PET, (47.8 per cent) and polypropylene, PP, (34.7 per cent) being the most prevalent. 

According to the study, human exposure to microplastics occurs "through ingestion, inhalation, and dermal contact" and to date, there has been no direct evidence of this foreign material in penile tissue.

"The detection of MPs (microplastics) in penile tissue raises inquiries on the ramifications of environmental pollutants on sexual health. 

"Our research adds a key dimension to the discussion on man-made pollutants, focusing on MPs in the male reproductive system," the researchers said. 

Microplastics are polymer fragments that can range in size from less than 0.2 inch (5 millimetres) down to 1/25,000th of an inch (1 micrometre). 

Anything smaller is a nanoplastic that must be measured in billionths of a metre. They form when larger plastics break down, either by chemically degrading or physically wearing down into smaller pieces.

Ranjith Ramasamy, a reproductive urology expert and the corresponding author of the study, said he wasn't surprised by the findings since penis is a very "vascular organ" similar to heart, the presence of microplastics in which led him to conduct the study.

"We need to identify whether microplastics are linked to ED and if there is a level beyond which it causes pathology and what types of microplastics are pathologic," Ramasamy told CNN

The study comes in the wake of another study which found microplastics in human testes. 

Ramasamy cautioned people against consuming edible or drinking water from plastic containers and plastic bottles, till "more research is done to identify levels that could cause pathology."

Image Source: Unsplash


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