Health Class

What Men Need To Know About Their Balls (But Are Afraid To Ask)

Time to brush up on your ball game.

by Chase Scheinbaum
Originally Published: 
A man in his bedroom wears only underwear, holding his pants in his hand.

The penis, with its shape shifting and general theatricality, gets most of the attention (and good nicknames). Your testicles? Not so much. Sure, they’ll send you a pulsing, crippling reminder of their existence when they suffer a direct hit. But for the most part, they’re seen as an oddly shaped evolutionary head-scratcher and are more or less an afterthought. Again, unless a wiffle ball comes flying at them. Because they’re what got you (or will get you) into this whole parenting thing in the first place, here are eight facts every man should know about his wedding tackle.

No, They’re Not Actually Balls

The size of your balls is one of the most frequent conversation starters for the rest of your life. But jokes (or humblebrags) aside, testicles are typically 2-to-3 inches in length and one-inch wide. Given their oval shape, the Spanish slang term “huevos” is much more apt than “balls” or “nuts.” Also good to know: The right jewel is often the larger of the two — though the left generally hangs lower.

You Actually Have Two Nut Sacks

What could be better than having one nut sack? Two! Each ball hangs inside its very own sack within the scrotum, and this membrane exists to keep them from becoming twisted around one another. Each ball, however, can twist around within its own sack, a condition called testicular torsion. This occurs most often in still-developing boys (and you thought your teenage years were awkward), but is rare, occurring in only one out of every 4,000 kids. However, a gnarly kick to the crotch, cycling, or even vigorous sex can lead to the disorder, which, yes, is as painful as it sounds and almost always requires surgery to fix.

No One Knows Why Balls Are On The Outside

Yes, they’re majestic on display. But in terms of general evolution, it’s a wonder why your testicles live on the outside of your body. For one thing, your danglers aren’t really protected. For another? They’re not really protected.

Now, what science does understand is that climate plays an important role in their placement. Sperm are best produced at a temperature slightly lower than the cozy 98.6 degrees of your body, so it makes sense that they live exist elsewhere. (Temperature is also the reason your scrotum expands and contracts, moving closer and farther from your core warmth). But, considering there are many animals whose testicles are housed within their bodies, scientists are stumped as to why ours hang in plain view.

This Is Why Balls Shift So Much

Blood constantly flows through the superhighways of veins in your testicles, which causes micro movements of your balls during the day. As mentioned above, temperature fluctuations cause them to shift in proximity to your body. Another thing that causes them to shift? Getting your freak on. You’d think this would be their time to shine, but they head north to propel semen upwards. This also explains many say that pulling their testicles down helps them last longer during sex.

The Reason A Direct Hit Hurts So Much

Taking a shot square to the plums makes you crumple like an origami crane because unlike most organs, they’re not protected by bone or muscle tissue. They’re also connected to nerves that travel up to the stomach, which explains why a direct can lead to nausea and vomiting. Fortunately, balls are resilient, and the spongy tissue from which they’re made doesn’t often hurt for more than an hour. Also fortunate: Such injuries rarely screw up their baby-making capabilities.

How To Check Your Balls For Lumps

Next time you’re grabbing your balls for comedic effect (or better yet, in the shower) take note of how they feel. Testicles should feel smooth, but not hard. When things get sexy, testicles swell as much as twice their normal size. That’s good! Any other swelling? That’s bad! Even though enlarged veins and cysts down there can be harmless, that’s cause to talk to a doctor. And of course, any pain, feeling of heaviness, or change in size that doesn’t subside when you’re snuggling (or closing the laptop) could be a medical concern.

Now, if those lumps happen to be testicular cancer, it’s considered relatively easy to treat even if it’s started to spread beyond the testicles. But don’t want to wait until that happens. Just keep touching yourself. Constantly.

The Key To Keeping Your Balls Healthy

Making sure your balls are in good working order is simple: Lead a healthy lifestyle. Smoking, drinking, and obesity all have a negative impact on the condition of your testicles. Puffing cigs and excess fat content leads to lower sperm count, while alcohol abuse cuts down testosterone levels and sperm count. If you are experiencing fertility issues, then rid your life of these habits — and maybe steer clear of the steam room: Frequent sauna use isn’t great for your swimmers, either.

Yeah, Scrotoplasty Is A Thing

Feeling depressed because your testicles aren’t youthful and vibrant anymore? For approximately $575, you can undergo a skin-tightening procedure called “ball ironing.” It involves removing the excess skin from your sack, through incisions, to make it look less saggy. Remember, you want to find a reputable doctor to perform this operation. If they have an ironing board and a can of spray starch, that’s your queue to leave.

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