Detection of microplastics in the human penis

In a small study, four out of five men being treated for erectile dysfunction were found to have microplastics in their penis tissue. Of seven different plastics detected, the most common types of plastics included polyethylene terepthalate (PET) and polypropylene (PP). Experts say the presence of microplastics in the penis and body may potentially be linked to erectile dysfunction in men, and that more research is needed.

Abstract: The proliferation of microplastics (MPs) represents a burgeoning environmental and health crisis. Measuring less than 5 mm in diameter, MPs have infiltrated atmospheric, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems, penetrating commonplace consumables like seafood, sea salt, and bottled beverages. Their size and surface area render them susceptible to chemical interactions with physiological fluids and tissues, raising bioaccumulation and toxicity concerns. Human exposure to MPs occurs through ingestion, inhalation, and dermal contact. To date, there is no direct evidence identifying MPs in penile tissue. The objective of this study was to assess for potential aggregation of MPs in penile tissue. Tissue samples were extracted from six individuals who underwent surgery for a multi-component inflatable penile prosthesis (IPP). Samples were obtained from the corpora using Adson forceps before corporotomy dilation and device implantation and placed into cleaned glassware. A control sample was collected and stored in a McKesson specimen plastic container. The tissue fractions were analyzed using the Agilent 8700 Laser Direct Infrared (LDIR) Chemical Imaging System (Agilent Technologies. Moreover, the morphology of the particles was investigated by a Zeiss Merlin Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), complementing the detection range of LDIR to below 20 µm. MPs via LDIR were identified in 80% of the samples, ranging in size from 20–500 µm. Smaller particles down to 2 µm were detected via SEM. Seven types of MPs were found in the penile tissue, with polyethylene terephthalate (47.8%) and polypropylene (34.7%) being the most prevalent. The detection of MPs 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.