Written by A. Wolf
Part 1. Know Thyself: The Testicles
The testicles are a perfect starting point for explaining the male sexual anatomy: it is located at the lowest point on the torso with the penis above it as if drawing and depending upon the testicles as it indeed does for sperm – it therefore represents in location and function a foundation and starting point for the sexual anatomy. But a surprising number of men don’t even regard their testicles as being sex organs and don’t include it in and don’t single it out for pleasure activity during sex. We therefore not only start this series with the testicles, we do so by stressing that the testicles very much belong amongst the sex organs and should indeed be included in sexual activity.
The Scrotum and Testicles at First Glance
I know I don’t need to tell you where yours is located, but let’s be thorough and state anyway that the testicles can be discerned as a protrusion on the outside of the body comprising the bag (or satchel if you want to sound snooty and sophisticated) of soft skin below the penis at the bottom of the pelvis at the parting of the thighs just above the entrance to the little passageway between the legs which runs from the testicles back to the anus and which is called the perineum. The soft bag of skin which envelopes the testes (‘balls’) is known as the scrotum (an improvement on ‘ball sack’, wouldn’t you say?).
Holding you or your partner’s scrotum and testicles, cupping the scrotum in your hand, you ought to clearly discern the two separate-feeling glands or “testes” (your two ‘balls’ – testes plural, testis singular) within the scrotum, which will feel like two ovals about the size of an olive or slightly larger. Let it be known now at this point that it isn’t so much the scrotum as the two testes themselves which are famously so sensitive to rough treatment (pressure and impact) and which should therefore always be treated with care and respect and with the greatest regard for its sensitivity to its owner. There is also a reason why we go through this mundane and simple and seemingly unnecessary procedure acquainting ourselves with what the testes in their scrotum feels like again: So that you can learn to also regularly massage your testicles to ascertain whether there are any lumps or lesions or painful areas on or around them.
So, your testicles, the testes in their scrotum or your balls in their sack are like two beans in a pod and you of course can feel each bean or ball separately. On the outside you can usually also discern a darkish line or a seam dividing the scrotum’s sack into two halves, and this division and dividing line is called the perineal raphe – it also marks a dividing wall running on the inside called the septum.
The scrotum is more than a mere sack of skin, it has muscles which can contract to draw the testicles up closer to the body when it is cold or during sexual excitement and can relax in warm weather to keep the testicles cool. It also functions as a kind or type of cooling unit and is located outside the body because it needs to maintain a temperature slightly lower than the rest of the body for the production of sperm. The scrotum finally is also a protective hull that shields the fine biomechanisms of the testicles or testes and is involved in manufacturing hormones and sperm.
A Look Inside: The Delicate Clockwork of the Testes and Its Tubes
Each of your testes weighs about 25 grams and is 4 to 5 centimeters long and 2 to 3 centimeters in diameter and within the scrotum each is covered by a fibrous capsule called the tunica albuginea. Beneath the tunica albuginea, each testis is divided into 200 to 400 sections or lobes with a fine network of 3 to 10 curled up tubules in each lobe known as the seminiferous tubules within which sperm is produced. The seminiferous tubules would measure approximately 500 meters if stretched out.
The sexual anatomical function of your testicles is to not only produce sperm, but to also produce hormones including testosterone, the hormone which regulates the sex drive or “libido” and which contributes to sperm production, strength, muscle and bone mass and fat distribution. Your testicles will do so and will continue manufacturing both sperm and testosterone as long as you live. The entire process of sperm production takes 70 days and a man will ejaculate 45 liters of sperm during his lifetime, which will amount to about 425 million sperm cells. Whereas sperm is produced within the seminiferous tubules supported by cells known as the Sertoli cells, testosterone is produced within the Leydig cells also located beneath the tunica albuginea, but in the septal walls and between the tubules. The Leydig cells have commonly more than one nucleus and are irregularly shaped and contain fat droplets, pigment granules and crystalline structures and are surrounded by blood and lymphatic vessels as well as by nerve fibers.
The testes are formed in the abdominal cavity of the unborn baby and descends into the scrotum during the seventh month of gestation stimulated by androgens. Two percent of newborn boys have undescended testis at birth but the condition usually corrects itself by about three months after birth. Testosterone secretion by the baby’s testes ceases a few weeks after birth and the testes will remain undeveloped during childhood until adolescence, when gonadotropic hormones from the pituitary gland at the base of the brain will stimulate development of tissue which will enable the testes to become capable of producing sperm and androgens.
The testes hang from the spermatic cord along which a sperm-conducting tube called the vas or ductus deferens runs along with the testicular artery and a fine paired network of veins called the pampiniform plexus draining the testes and leading to the epididymis tube on the back of each testis. Sperm matures in the epididymis and is conducted from it into and along the vas deferens which leads into the pelvic cavity from where the sperm is fed into the urethra in preparation for ejaculation.
Clearly this all ought to elevate the testicles in good standing in our comprehension of our male sexual systems. It is a delicate system which is worthy of our attention and respect.
Taking Care of Your Organs
We sit with two potential problems: One is that guys can tend to ignore and exclude their testicles from sex, and the second problem is almost the opposite, namely that some guys treat their testicles way too roughly during sex while some subject it to absolutely astonishing abuse. A host of injuries can easily occur to one or both of the testes due to anything from just a bit of hard handling, a little carelessly kinky action or due to repeated sessions of hard ball play – a testis can rupture, the fine tubing in or outside it can be damaged and even the little pricks of needles and pins to the scrotum can become invasive infections.
Ball locking and any sex toy or device that restricts normal blood flow or the transition of fluid along your body parts and inside organs including in the penis and testicles, are either already doing damage or pose the risk of doing so every time they are used: not only the many tubes, arteries and veins in and around the testes can be restricted and become blocked, the spermatic cord, its tubes and arteries and veins can also be injured by any restrictive strap, ring or lock.
Usually swelling and soreness and even redness of the testicles as a whole or of one or both testes or of a specific area on it are the initial tell-tale symptoms and indications of sex injuries. The latter symptoms quickly worsen of untreated and can give rise to excruciating pain – you are going to need help. And the fact that sex injuries are embarrassing to explain is potentially the least of your problems… Those who abuse their own or their lover’s balls simply don’t reckon with a dreadful final possibility: The pain and discomfort and embarrassment besides, the loss of but one of the testes, never mind both, can be a psychologically utterly devastating and challenging experience because of the cultural significance attached to the testes. We say of somebody who is cowardly that they “don’t have balls” because the implication is that if you don’t have balls, then you aren’t a man. As exaggerated and arbitrary and misguided as such statements may be, the fact is that the loss of just a single testicle can therefore lay a man low. There is prosthesis available to replace lost testes, but if it was preventable, then the loss and replacement all had been unnecessary and the previous discussion or look inside the testicles alone ought to have proved hard ball play foolhardy and reckless. The alternative is of course “safe ball play,” but let’s prepare for bed and our partner by briefly dealing with pubic hair first before we get to pleasurable safe ball play.
Safe Ball Play: Incorporating the Testicles (and Perineum) in Pleasurable Gay Sex
I have pleaded for incorporation of the testicles in gay sex and I have pleaded for safely doing so and before I render some advice on how to do so, let me now also do the same and just put in a little word for inclusion of the perineum in your sexual repertoire too. The little passage between your legs stretching from your testicles back to your buttocks where it ends and goes over into the natal cleft (your ‘ass crack’), is also not inconsequential and deprived of sensitivity and erotic allure: Just run a pointed finger softly along your lover’s (front to back of back to front) and ask them if they liked it if you touch them there, and when you do that – and chances are they will confirm that it is indeed quite a turn-on and pleasurable. Now, the perineum can also be softly massaged to contribute to arousal and also as a way of stimulating the internal sexual anatomy. It can even be licked as an isolated activity or be incorporated in licking your way from the penis down to the testicles and further on down along the perineum on your way to rimming (licking and orally stimulating the anus or ‘eating ass’). So, when you engage in ball play, incorporate and devote some attention to the perineum too.
Now let’s put the balls in play, starting with the skinny sack of the scrotum. Besides pulling, stretching or crumpling and squeezing of the outer skin layer of the scrotum or ball sack, the insides, the testes and inner tubes as well as connective tissues are susceptible to pressure – you can feel your testis being squeezed… Squeeze too hard and a most unpleasant sensation occurs, almost all boys know that and it is why some men prefer to not let anyone touch their balls in the first place, whether for pleasure even. If you want to incorporate the testicles in and during sex, both partners have to be mindful in doing so of causing pain and discomfort, or else one of you are going to prohibit and prevent the other from touching their balls again (after hurting it just once).
So, we have learned to duck and dive if anybody ever even just makes for your balls or just seem to take aim at it, and rightly so, but that was when we were kids. To let childish schoolboy behavior ruin the prospect of thereafter ever experiencing sexual pleasure involving your balls again would be truly lamentable, it would be to your detriment, your loss. Actually, after having had to protect your balls and after not allowing anyone to ever come close to it and to even touch your testicles, it is divine to allow someone, another man namely a lover or partner you can trust, to cup your balls and to let them hold it in the palm of their hand – gently now… and play with it.
You can already devote some of your attention to your partner’s testicles during advanced foreplay as well as during sex subsequently in its advanced phases. Here are some of the basic procedures for incorporating the testicles in and during sex as well as how to do so to various effects, directions for kinky ball play using food for arousal and stimulation and how to basically go about inspecting the testicles to assess its health, to locate lesions, lumps and sore spots indicating injuries or ailments which require a visit to your doctor.
Exercise 1: Safely Pulling and Tugging on and Stretching the Scrotum
- Your scrotum itself isn’t without feeling and can be the focus of pleasurable activity: it has nerves making its surface receptive to tactile sensations such as being touched and stroked – the sack itself can also register the sensation of having its surface skin lightly pulled or stretched or gently crumpled and squeezed.
- Try gently, softly pulling on the scrotum’s sack during foreplay and sex since if done right, this contributes to arousal and sexual pleasure.
- If you pull on the scrotum or ball sack and testes during an erection, you will see the erect penis dip and point down and whip back up if you let go of the sack and stop polling the scrotum down. Doing so and doing so continuously, pulling on the scrotum and letting go or letting the sack pull back up into position would of course make the erect cock whip up and down, is something which might swiftly become pleasurable and which might further arouse an already erect cock or cause an erection if done to a flaccid and limp peen.
End of Part 1
If you enjoyed the series or a particular installment or part of it and found it useful, do write to Exit and let us know what you think at info@Exit.co.za. Personal input, corrections, criticism or potential contributions regarding the For the Love of It series can be forwarded to email@example.com
This series was compiled by A. Wolf, the pseudonym of an author, journalist and anthropologist who has been involved with LGBTQ causes and who is a columnist and a regular contributor to Exit. He is not a sex therapist or a sexologist or formally qualified in the field of sexual studies, but writes from personal experience and after having studied his subjects for this series.
Next Month: Part 2 – Know Thyself 2: The Penis