There's this old Star Trek episode where the female rulers of a planet warn Kirk and McCoy about the "givers of pain and delight." That's kind of how I regard the testicles. Treat them right and they'll provide delight, first by keeping your hormonal milieu up to snuff and, secondly, by providing sensory pleasure.
Treat them wrong, though, and they'll give pain – the worst kind of pain. After all, the things are lousy with nerves and the very thought of getting whacked in the crotch is enough to make any man grimace.
Given their power to please and punish, it only makes sense we should know something about them. Here then, in no particular order, are my favorite testicle factoids.
1 – When Two Just Isn't Enough
It's very rare, but it's possible to have more than two testicles. The condition is called "polyorchidism." Men with this condition most often have three testicles, but the record, so far as we know, is five.
The condition may even explain some failed vasectomies. Since the extra testicles aren't always readily apparent (it doesn't necessarily look like the scrotums of afflicted men are hiding a bunch of grapes), the doctor goes blithely in and snips the vas deferens connected to two testicles, unaware that there was a third (or fourth or fifth) that's still sending troops to the front.
2 – What's the Normal Size?
Normal adult males have testicles ranging in size from 12 to 25 ml, although they can temporarily double in size during sex. As a point of reference, 25 ml is about 4/5ths the size of the average marshmallow.
If you really want to know how you measure up, though, you can go to an endocrinologist and ask him or her for what's often referred to as the "endocrine rosary" or "the medical worry beads." It's a string of twelve wooden or plastic beads of increasing size ranging from 1 to 25 ml. They were invented in 1966 by endocrinologist Andrea Prader of the University of Zurich.
You simply isolate the testicle with your thumb and forefinger and match it up to the bead that matches it most closely in size.
There was never a bead on the endocrine rosary large enough to measure the size of the world's biggest human testicles, though. That "honor" goes to 49-year-old Wesley Warren, whose testicles and scrotal sack weighed in at 132.5 pounds. Wesley's condition was caused by an accumulation of lymphatic fluid called lymphadema.
While Wesley died in 2014 of a heart attack, his scrotum currently lives in Menlo Park, California where it drives a bus for the municipal transit system. What? Too soon? Sorry. Anyhow, as far as the animal kingdom in general, the blue whale is the big-ball champion, with testicles weighing in at about 22 pounds.
3 – Did Hitler Really Only Have One?
No, "Hitler Has Only Got One Ball" was not Adele's breakout song. Instead, it was something written in Britain in 1939 to mock Nazi leaders. Numerous versions arose around the world but the original contained the following lyrics:
- Hitler has only got one ball
- Göring has two but very small
- Himmler is rather sim'lar
- But poor old Goebbels has no balls at all
Apparently the lyrics had some basis in fact. Hitler had long been rumored to have lost a testicle to shrapnel in WWI, but that wasn't the case. A recently discovered medical exam from 1923 revealed that he did indeed have two balls but the right one was "cryptorchid," or undescended.
4 – Lean as a Scrotum?
People in the physique biz usually use terms like "ripped" and "chiseled" to describe low body fat levels, but I think people should adopt "shredded as a scrotum" because, aside from the eyelids, it's the part of the body with almost no subcutaneous fat.
Even so, it gets no respect, particularly from women. Many is the time I've heard some woman boasting about the sensitivity of her vulva while mocking my scrotum for being like an old, sun-dried, wind weathered tarp, like what you toss over the lawnmower when you're not using it.
Sure, hear it all the time, but the fact is the scrotum has the same embryological origins as the female vulva, making it a bonafide erogenous zone and equal to the vulva in sensitivity and feel-good capability.
5 – I Shudder to Think What the Word Guacamole Derives From
The word avocado is derived from the Aztec word for testicle.
6 – How About I Just Sit in a Bucket of Retin A?
In what must be characterized as vanity run amok, some men choose to rid their scrotums of wrinkles so their ballsacks look more like the face of the child actor who played Yorki in JoJo Rabbit and less like Yoda (old Yoda).
There are actually ways to do this. One way is to (shudder) inject filler, the same kind of filler that's used to eliminate wrinkles in the face. Scrotal "reductions" and "lifts" are also available, as well as a non-surgical laser treatment that treats a man's "bikini area," simultaneously removing hair and skin tags while tightening the scrotum.
7 – Let's Swear on a Bible or Just Shake On It Instead
The word testicle comes from the Latin word testis, meaning "witness". When in court to TESTIFY, ancient Romans had to swear an oath by placing their hand on their own testicles or, in some cases, on another man's testicles.
8 – No Wonder Women Love to Have Them Pinned on Their Chest!
The name of the orchid plant comes from the Greek word "orkhis", for testicle. That's because the roots of certain orchid plants look like a pair of balls.
9 – Why Are the Balls in Such a Vulnerable Position?
The testicles of most mammals, including man, are hanging right out there for the world to see. There are exceptions, though. Elephants, aardvarks, and anteaters have theirs stored up inside their bodies, near the kidneys. Seals keep theirs just under the skin.
Even so, most of the mammals that leave their testicles exposed are quadrupeds. That means they walk on all fours, allowing their bodies to partially shield their testicles, regardless of whether inside the body or out. The quadrupeds also have their thickly muscled hind legs to give further protection.
Man, arguably, is the worst off, testicle-location wise. The organs responsible for transmitting his entire genetic complement are completely exposed except for thin layers of cotton and denim, vulnerable to foot or fist or rock-hard bicycle seat.
It's as if FedEx trucks affixed all their packages on the front bumper where all the light bulbs, fortune cookies, porcelain figurines, macaroons, and Stradivarius violins they were delivering would bear the brunt of any collision. It's a wonder we survived this long as a species.
There is, of course, a reason for this odd placement and it involves temperature. Many researchers believe that the testicles need to be two to three degrees cooler than the rest of the body so by hanging out there, away from excessive body heat, the sperm are kept in a mild state of cold storage.
They're rather short-lived so they need to keep cool, calm, and relatively inactive until they reach the warm, welcoming climes of the vagina where they spring to life and hightail it to the ovum.
10 – Make Them Dance, Daddy! Make Them Dance!
Testicles move up and down according to the temperature. The dartos muscles are responsible for expanding or contracting the scrotum, bringing the testicles closer to the body when it's cold and lowering them from the body when it's too warm. The cremaster muscles have a similar function, but they're attached directly to the spermatic cord.
The latter also move the balls closer to the body prior to ejaculation to protect them from overly enthusiastic pelvic thrusts.
In fact, so protective are these cremaster muscles that they'll pull the testicles closer to the body at the first hint of danger. Japanese physicians even use the cremaster muscles as a kind of barometer to gauge the efficacy of anesthesia.
They'll prick the inner thigh of the patient with a needle and if Mothra and Gojira fail to retreat towards their subterranean lairs, the patient is sufficiently anesthetized.