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Health, Sports & Psychology

Lab Rats: Sperm diary

Updated Saturday 1st July 2006

Read Mike Leahy and Zeron Gibson's sperm diary, as part of the BBC/OU's programme website for Lab Rats

Mike and Zeron's faces Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team

Preparation
Zeron: Let's back track a little. Seven days before the shoot (excuse the obvious and unavoidable pun) I was having dinner with the producer, Nic, who informed me that the sperm show will involve me producing copious amounts of semen samples. And he was deliberately vague on all counts of what the show would contain. "You're a Lab Rat! Since when do Lab Rats have a running order of events?" was his only (but strangely logical) defence. "And Zeron, do abstain from sex of any kind a day before the shoot, dude," were his final words to me as we parted.

Dinner the day before helped keep me occupied. The film crew are a great bunch of guys so we all relaxed and laughed and swapped men stories: daring deeds of sexual adventures, be they solo or with partners. As the booze flowed our inhibitions lowered and our tales became more shocking - and louder. At one point a nearby TV celebrity had to cut in. He had listened to our exploits and tried his best to ignore them, but when Mike spoke about being caught naked by his mother-in-law, he really had to draw the line and ask us to be less rowdy - all he wanted was a quiet Sunday evening meal with his wife! But he did say some of our laddish exploits had made their dinner one of the most entertaining for a long time.

Mike: The day before the shoot we went to the pub to meet some of the other guys who would be working on the series. Over several drinks, Allan Pacey, a sperm expert from Sheffield, gave us some facts about men who undertake sex change operations. It has been found that, psychologically, it is better for people who have had a sex change operation to have children who are genetically their own, later in life. So they often leave sperm in storage just in case they change their minds: hence the reason that Allan often comes into contact with sex change patients. While talking to one sex change patient he found why scrotal electrolysis is needed. The scrotum makes up the interior of the patient's vagina, and should all the hair not be removed fur balls would result inside his new female reproductive tract!

 
Mike and Zeron sperm wallshot Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team

Day 1: Sperm on the Wall
Zeron: So here I am in a house, it's about 8am and I've not even had breakfast yet. I'm with my buddy Mike, a camera crew and a producer who is grinning from ear to ear. No girls on the set (I had requested that). It's bad enough having to do what we were about to do without adding a female into the equation.

"Okay boys, go do your stuff, bring me a sample.!" Our producer has a real sexy way with words.

So we went to our room to do what boys do (usually without being told and without a camera crew following). Our apartment was a very plush two bedroom suite about eight floors up, and because I don't expect anyone to be hunting with binoculars for a guy pleasuring himself in a high rise apartment, I've left my blinds open. So, I've just spread some intellectual naked female art magazines on my bed, and am standing there, a sample pot in one hand, about to drop my trousers with the other, when Spiderman abseils down into view. This is window cleaning day! The poor guy on the harness never missed a beat (perhaps, bizarrely, he'd seen this sort of thing before) and just went about polishing the windows. I on the other hand dropped the pot and did a runner!

Eventually, with blinds drawn, I managed to produce a sample which Mike placed under a microscope and for the first time ever I saw my sperm - MAGNIFIED AND PROJECTED ON A WALL! Our producer has an odd sense of humour. Things got even more absurd as Mike and I pranced about in front of the projector so our sperm would be displayed all over our faces. Please use your imagination to come up with the numerous witty comments to do with semen swimming on our face as Mike and I did.

Dog and Sperm Racing
Zeron: The world of dog racing was totally alien to me. It was like I'd stepped into another universe. Men spoke in hand signals. Notice boards lit up facts and figures in a mystical tongue. People jumped for joy or tore up bits of paper and swore under their breath. People-watching was more fascinating than watching an actual dog race, which was over all too quickly.

Mike: I had never been to watch greyhound racing before, but it was a fun place to meet up with Allan again to chat about sperm related stuff. Zeron and I placed a couple of bets but ended up losing everything. The thing that really stuck in my mind was the crowd who shouted angrily at dogs on the other side of the track if they weren't running fast enough. Of course the dogs couldn't have heard them, even if they could understand what was being shouted. Somehow I don't think that the crowd could have run any faster, either.

Zeron: We met Dr Allan Pacey who was a great laugh, one of the lads. I jokingly dubbed him "the Spunk King" as he knew all facts and figures about the stuff. For example, he told us about a fruit fly that produces a single sperm cell, yet it's 20 times its own body length - weird! And he also told us about a dumb ass sperm race between Mike and me.

Mike: Towards the end of the evening the snow began to come down and messed things right up. The trip back was cold and slippery, so a good hot curry was more than welcome. It was difficult to find a restaurant that was open though, because by the time we got back from the shoot it was about midnight.

 
Casts in the monkeyhouse Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team

Day 2: Naked in the Monkey house
Mike: Our first job in the morning was to do a sperm test in the hospital. It's really difficult to try and get aroused in a clinical white room that you know has been used for a specific purpose thousands of times before. It's even harder knowing that there's a film crew waiting outside the door.

Zeron: The night before Nic warned us off pleasuring ourselves during the night. "No crafty wanks," I think his words were. We had to save it to produce in the Birmingham Women's Hospital. Doing it on demand is really not that easy. And I do feel for the poor blokes who have to produce because of possible infertility. Still, some of those guys are a bit naughty: I was told by a nurse at the clinic that men regularly steal some of the girlie magazines left in the sample rooms. It was good to get it over and done with and get back on the road to visit Dudley Zoo.

Mike: In the afternoon we walked around Dudley Zoo talking about animals and their prowess in the sperm game. We then made casts of our testicles in a chimpanzee house (which was weird to say the least) before talking bollocks with Allan.

Zeron: I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. We had to cast our testicles (for common decency we couldn't show our actual testicles on TV) in the monkey house. The monkey house was cold. The testicle mould was cold. And the female chimps watching were unimpressed. But hey, I got to show my ass on TV.

Secretly Mike and I had been prepped for that Lab Rat stunt, because we had to shave off all our pubes. I pity anyone - male or female - who makes a mould of down there and does not take the precaution of clean shaving first!

Mike: We filmed the results of our sperm tests. Zeron and I were trying to work out why our sperm counts were a bit disappointing. Allan told us that we should look back three months, because this is about how long it takes to make sperm. Three months ago, we were filming another programme for the series, so although we weren't ill, we were very tired from the long days. Allan lent me a scientific paper about testicle volume. In it was a graph showing testicle size against sperm count. Zeron's testicular volume was 55ml, which should give him 180 million sperm (give or take 10 million) per ejaculation. My testicles had a total volume of 65ml, which should give 300 million sperm per ejaculation (again, give or take 50 million).

Zeron: Forget the science: Mike has bigger balls than me. Rats!

Mike: This was the first time that we had heard the results of any sperm tests that we had taken, but of course the programme makers had checked us out before (to make sure that we had something to make a programme about), and we had allowed them to keep the results secret from us so that we would genuinely hear our sperm count for the first time when on camera. However, in the light of the televised results, in which Zeron (the father of three kids) was told that he was sub-fertile and would need treatment to make a woman pregnant, we now wanted to know our earlier results.

Zeron: I was told that I was sub-fertile and would have needed treatment if I was looking to father children. Since I'm not, it didn't really bother me - I already have three stunning daughters.

Mike: When we looked into figures taken from the earlier samples, we found out that Zeron routinely produced 60 million sperm per ejaculation, which is a little lower than expected from his testicle size but well into the normal fertile range for men, and I managed between 270 to 300 million sperm per ejaculation before filming, which is 'right on the button.' After a lot of thought (and questions to Allan), we came to the conclusion that our counts were lower than normal when most recently tested, because we had produced a 'sample' only the day before so that we could see for ourselves what our sperm looked like under a microscope. After emptying my testicles so late the night before, I'd guessed my count may be a little lower than it would normally be, but not as low as I was told it was after the hospital test. For us it was a shame that the unusually low figures would be shown on national TV, but that's television.

Zeron: Back at the hospital, Allan did point out that a low sperm count doesn't mean you are less of a man - you could well have spirited sperm who are fighters. Or you could have an army of the critters who are lazy and can't be bothered to go egg hunting. So he said the sperm race was still on as it would pitch Mike's hordes against my minions to see who has the more virile sperm cells.

 
plaster casts Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission

Day 3: Thumb & Forefinger
Zeron: This was to be the day I get wired up, ejaculate and get my brain waves recorded. And a speed gun is to be used for some sick, sick purpose. However, due to the terrible weather we had a complete change of plan. The man with the equipment is snowed in somewhere and can't get to us today. I'm so happy. This was not something I was looking forward to. I was going to be in a horror story - me jacking off so they can see what happens to the brain at the point of extreme pleasure. Not much pleasure in it for me.

Mike: In the end, we thought that we would try to catch up on the shots we missed at the zoo on day three. The ground was unbelievably slippery leading to the zoo's closure and causing Nic (our producer) to slip over. A turn up was that there was a really nice pub near the zoo where Zeron and I could have lunch, and have a chance to chat to Allan. He used the casts of our testicles to show us how to check for testicular cancer, and while telling us how to gently squeeze our testis in two directions he dropped a bombshell: he had suffered from testicular cancer and had been forced to have a testicle removed some years previously. Zeron and I were shocked, but as Allan was so open we took the opportunity to ask about the disease and its impact on his life.

You would have thought that the danger of testicular cancer would have been brought home to me years ago. After all, my best childhood friend died of testicular cancer at a really early age. A great uncle died in his early seventies from the same disease, along with a twenty-seven year old workmate and a friend from primary school who lived until he was thirty-eight. In addition, one of my relatives is still battling with the disease.

Zeron: When Allan told us of his brush with testicular cancer it brought home to us the severity of the disease. I know of at least one person who was in his late teens/early twenties when he died of the disease. And Mike told of friends of his who had succumbed to this easily treatable disease. The strangest thing is, we concluded, that women probably know more what testicles feel like than blokes (for obvious reasons). Allan mentioned that lots of lumps are first discovered on their man by women. After Allan told us how to check ourselves, I made an amazing discovery - my testicle is spongy: that shows a healthy testicle. One which is hard with a lateral or width wise pressure (between the thumb and forefinger) should be checked out immediately by a doctor.

Jiggling them about quickly while washing is not enough as I had previously thought. And the sooner it is discovered, the sooner treatment can done. I now check once a week.

Mike: Luckily, as a sperm and testicle expert, Allan knew how to check himself out and caught the tumour early. Although it's the most prevalent cancer in young men, the disease is easy to cure, with a good recovery rate, which is a good reason to inspect your testicles at least once a month. But to date, I have never checked myself out properly. This is stupid, because it could well be the most important thirty seconds of any man's life. So check out Allan's guide to checking your tackle NOW!

 
Mike in Pants Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team

Day 4: Getting Sperm Fit
Mike: Because my sperm quality appears to be better than Zeron's, we've agreed to try to level the playing field before the race. I now need to reduce my sperm count, or at least the quality of the sperm I have. To do this I agreed to abstain from sex and masturbation for seven days. That way my count and volume may go up, but the percentage of healthy motile sperm will go down.

To further handicap my sperm, I agreed to wear a pair of tight underpants followed by three rolls of bandage, topped off with a pair of tight, sweaty, plastic incontinence pants! As if this wouldn't heat my gonads up enough, I added a chemical heat pad which should heat my testicles to well over body temperature - if the instructions on the pack could be believed, temperatures of fifty degrees Celsius should be achieved. This should be plenty hot enough to mess up enzymes and chemical reactions essential for healthy sperm. The packet says that the heat packs should not be used directly on the skin, except the hands. I put them directly on my testicles and the heat soon makes them ache as if I have just been kicked in the balls or have sat in a bath that is far too hot. I then decide to put them in the bandages, but they are still too hot for comfort.

Zeron: I have to train my little boys up. I have to get them ready to take on and defeat Mike's. I have to wear loose trousers. Eat healthy foods, no alcohol and take regular exercise. I have a brain wave. Porn film stars produce lots of sperm so maybe one of them could give me some advice. I had persuaded Nic this is a good idea so an interview is set up for me with Pascal, the star of a number of Ben Dover films.

He's a wonder, and we get along like a house on fire. Although he gives me a lot of advice it soon becomes apparent that none of it is based in science or transmittable on BBC TV! For instance he told me to eat a lot of boiled sweets for the sugar content. "Improves the virility?" I asked. He shakes his head and laughs, "No, for the taste!" We got more and more obscene, so the whole scene was cut, as inappropriate. The camera crew were fascinated, but poor Nic just shook his head in total disbelief the whole time.

Mike: We try to drive to Dudley Zoo in order to do more shots, but the weather closes in and the VW just slips and slides on the snow and ice. The crew need lunch. They didn't get a chance to sit down and eat over the last two days so we grab a bite at a fast food place. I have so much trouble dealing with the bandages that I have to use the baby changing room to sort myself out. Eventually we have to admit defeat and give up filming for the day. This means an early night. Cool!

 
Happy Zeron Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team

Day 5: Hard as steel
Zeron: We've gone to London to measure the power of our erections. Actually, it's not our erections at all - it's just me who's in the hot seat! I wasn't pleased, but I just hoped that I could give a good performance - I needed to deliver some payback for Mike having bigger balls.

According to Nic it was necessary to show not only the ammunition, but investigate the equipment needed for delivering the sperm. Impotency is a real part of some men's lives. Low sperm count, or the inability to get it up, can be a disaster for a guy. So I had to go to a hospital and have my system checked out. 'No pressure Zeron; we won't judge you if you can't get it up.' Like hell they wouldn't! Consultant David Rickards explained everything to me: I was to attach sensor rings at the base and head of my penis before watching a porno film and - hopefully - getting erect! All this in the clinical environment of a hospital examination room with Mike, the crew and David in an adjacent room monitoring me.

But (and I say a big but) when I got hard I had to call David who would rush in and use a ultrasound scan to measure the blood flow in my erection. I can promise you this was not an easy task but I beat the odds and did it! Mind you the film I was watching helped a hell of a lot. David said I defied all the odds and managed a good result - Pascal would have been proud of me!

Day 6 & Day 7 Days Off
(Continuing our lifestyle routines to try and change the quality and quantity of our semen)

 
students watching sperm race Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: The Open University

Day 8: The Sperm Derby
Mike: Today was going to be very busy. Our first task is a new sperm test to see how the week's experiment has affected us. I have had real problems becoming aroused in the hospital 'donation' room. Porn doesn't work for me - it's just paper - neither do videos. Since I'm meant to be on honeymoon, and my new wife isn't with me, I have to rely on my imagination. Difficult when Zeron is in the next room and the film crew are outside my door.

Zeron: We arrive at the hospital to give a final sample. Having abstained for several days I was sure my volume would be up. That was the only thing I was certain of. Camera crew hanging around and Mike in the other sample room 'producing' - this was not going to be easy. At least the magazines had been changed. I was so busy thumbing through them I almost forget why I was in there (not!).

Mike: The results are OK. I produce 3.2ml total volume, with a total sperm count of 188 million. This works out to be 52 million sperm cells per millilitre. The average man ejaculates between 40 million and 60 million per millilitre with an average volume of 3ml, so I am dead average. The motility of my sperm isn't excellent at about 30% but it shows that the week's experiment seems to have worked. The weirdest thing is that although Zeron produces a lower volume he also produces 52 million sperm per millilitre with a motility of 30%. It looks like the playing field is now very level.

Zeron: The results are good. For me they are better than expected. This new sample suggests we are both on level pegging. Neither of us has the upper hand. It's all gonna be down to the how well our sperm can swim.

Mike: The race is getting closer. I try on my new hooded sweatshirt that the production team have bought me for the programme. It is green, with my name on the back of it. I don't suppose I'll be wearing it again that often.

The students arrive, half of them from Birmingham University and the other half from Aston University. They all get a free drink and one of the girls from Birmingham is soon pissed. Cool, she is supposed to be supporting Zeron. A short while later and Darrell, the compère for the night, has got the crowd fired up. He is brilliant. A short while later a couple of girls are puking in the toilets. Again they are from the Birmingham crew - who have been accused of pinching beer from my supporters from Aston. My chief fan gets going rousing the others. He's a gay lad, dressed in pink and is very, very funny.

Zeron: Inside the appropriately titled Cock Inn things are heating up for the race. A huge screen is set up at one end of the room. Darrell is working his magic with the crowd. He is the warm up man as well as the race commentator. It's obvious they love him and find him hysterically funny. They find him even funnier the more booze they have.

It soon becomes extremely apparent that Birmingham University are my supporters. I don't mind as there are far more stunning babes in this group. Alcohol flowing, crowds cheering even chanting anti-Mike or anti-Zeron slogans (depending who they were supporting). I have on my Blue hooded top with my name on the back. We see a split screen with each of our sperm indicated in - green for Mike; blue for me.

Mike: The race gets going proper. It's clear that I have more sperm cells and I clearly lead the race for the first part. Halfway through I'm still there, but Zeron is catching up. Finally, as we approach the line my 'green meanie' sperm is only a short distance ahead of Zeron's blue sperm. As the crowd hits fever pitch the blue wriggler finally catches up. It's a photo finish. The resulting image shows that Zeron's sperm cell just makes it. Bummer! I've lost - but only just.

Zeron: When the race started Darrell kept everyone on tenterhooks with his commentary. Even when it was clearly apparent that my sperm was lagging behind Mike's, Darrell kept me in the running. Then like true athletes, my sperm put on an incredible burst of speed. My fans - who had been pretty subdued up until now - suddenly came to life! The fat lady wasn't singing for Mike just yet. Against all odds they both appeared to have crossed the line at the same time: unbelievable! The photo finish was replayed on the screen and Darrell had hardly said my name when Birmingham University erupted - I had won!

This had proved Allan's prognosis. I had a low sperm count and would otherwise require fertility treatment yet I had fathered three children. Proving that it is the virility of the sperm which counts as much as the quantity. And I had fighters.

Time for one of Birmingham's famed Baltis, methinks.

Mike: We have a few drinks, non-alcoholic in my case, and watch the crowd as they still shout and sing enthusiastically at each other. They're pissed, but I'm not. It's a very funny scene to watch, but I've lost the race, and we have no fuel and nowhere to sleep. We leave the Cock Inn after a very happy evening and try to find fuel and somewhere to eat. It proves very difficult, but we finally find petrol and manage to find a Balti house that is happy to serve us at midnight. Half an hour's drive and we reach a beautiful country hotel called Brockencote Hall near Kidderminster. It's lovely. I'm drained from another sixteen-hour day, but what an amazing thing to have done - a bloody sperm race. Can you believe it?!

 

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