A 33-year-old man who had been suffering from back pain decided to treat himself by resorting to an unusual remedy not supported by scientific research: he injected himself with a dose of his own semen every month for a year and a half.
The "alternative therapy" baffled doctors at Tallaght University Hospital in Dublin, where the man showed up recently with severe back pain and a swollen arm, according to a case report published this month in the Irish Medical Journal.
"This is the first reported case of semen injection for use as a medical treatment," the doctors wrote in the report they titled, "'Semenly' Harmless Back Pain: An Unusual Presentation of a Subcutaneous Abscess."
The unnamed man used his semen "as an innovative method" to treat his chronic back pain, a decision he made without any medical advice, the report says. He bought a hypodermic needle online and injected himself with a monthly dose of his semen for 18 months.
The method does not appear to have worked.
The man went to the hospital days after lifting a heavy steel object. Pain in his lower back had gotten worse, the report says. His right arm, in which he had injected the liquid multiple times, was red and swollen. An X-ray showed air trapped underneath, as semen had leaked into the soft tissues.
Doctors gave the man some antimicrobial medicine. His back improved during his stay at the hospital, the report says.
Doctors warn against injecting one's veins with substances that aren't intended for such purposes. Although researchers have injected semen into animals such as rats and rabbits, there had been no cases of this happening to humans.
There had been plenty of research on injecting one's veins with harmful substances, such as mercury, gasoline, lighter fluid and hydrochloric acid to commit suicide, the doctors wrote. But they did not find any medical literature on injecting semen to treat back pains after a "comprehensive review" of scientific databases, publications, and "the wider internet," including "eclectic" sites and forums.
The report did not say how or where the man came up with the unconventional method, though his isn't the first case of people who aren't doctors taking matters in their own hands.
Last year, controversial biotech engineer Aaron Traywick injected himself with experimental herpes treatment while on Facebook Live at a conference in Austin. Months later, he was found dead in a therapy tank inside a spa room in Washington, D.C. Police don't suspect foul play and his cause of death was not known.