All About Balls: Scrotal pleasure & health
BELOW THE BELT
We know that balls are where sperm cells are produced. However, most of what we know about men’s balls is that if they get hit, men double over in pain. Think of every episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos you’ve ever seen; it isn’t funny until someone gets a waffle bat to the crotch. Because of this, some might be reluctant to touch the balls, even for pleasure. This is unfortunate because many men enjoy their scrotum being held, tugged, massaged, licked or pulled during sexual encounters. It’s also unfortunate because there is so much more to learn about balls than how sensitive they are.
Most men have two testicles located in the scrotum, the sack of skin that contains the testicles (although men only need one testicle to be fertile and to have a normal sex drive). One testicle, or “ball,” is usually bigger and hangs lower than the other. On the top and back of the testicles you will be able to feel the epididymis, a soft, cord-like structure that stores and transports sperm. This might feel like a lump and might be tender to touch or pressure. The skin that makes up a man’s scrotum, or ball-sack, starts out as the same tissue that would have turned into the lips of the vulva for a female during prenatal development. Men and women really aren’t that different - we all started out pretty much the same.
A male’s balls actually form inside his abdomen, and don’t descend to outside of the body until a month or two before birth. For about 3.5 percent of boys, one of the testicles can remain “undescended” at birth, but it usually descends on its own. For those that don’t, surgical intervention is usually prescribed.
Balls hang lower than the body because sperm like air conditioning; they need to be cooler than the body’s core temperature. But when a man becomes cold, the testicles will lift closer to the body to moderate the temperature for the sensitive sperm. The testicles also lift and swell when a man is sexually excited.
Adding ball stimulation can bring variety to your sex life and possibly open the door for new pleasurable sensations you haven’t had before. The balls can provide sexual pleasure, but it may be less intense and more subtle than pleasure from the penis. Experiment during masturbation with holding, rubbing, caressing, or tugging your balls. You may find it feels quite nice. Or, you might not like it at all. If you do like it, you can suggest to your partner(s) that they include stimulating your scrotum during oral, vaginal or anal sex, or you could do this yourself, too. You might try different positions that allow your partner to have better access to your balls. Or you might find you like oral stimulation of the scrotum better than manual touch. Keep in mind that for partners who don’t have testicles, more guidance might be needed to know what feels good versus unpleasant.
AM I BLUE?
Blue balls, also known as pelvic congestion, occurs when blood and fluid flow into the pelvic area and remain there, increasing “tension.” As sexual stimulation without orgasm is prolonged, the fluids may remain in the area, causing discomfort or pain. The sensation usually dissipates in a short while, but masturbation, massaging the testicles, lying down, or even heavy lifting can help return blood flow and alleviate the sensation faster. But don’t buy the hype: experiencing blue balls is not debilitating, and there are many ways other than partner sex that men can relieve the sensation.
Women get blue ovaries, too, sort of. Women also experience pelvic congestion, as blood may engorge the pelvic area, which may result in heaviness or discomfort during sexual stimulation without orgasm.
TAKE YOUR BALLS INTO YOUR OWN HANDS!
Once a month, or every 3,000 strokes (whichever comes first), a man should check his balls for lumps or abnormalities that could be a sign of testicular cancer. A partner can also check your balls while performing oral sex, for example. Although testicular cancer only accounts for 1% of all cancers in men, it is the top cancer killer for men in their 20s and 30s. Check early, check often. When found early, ball problems are very treatable – 90 percent are curable.
A Testicular Self-Exam is best performed by a guy (or his partner) after he has showered or taken a hot bath. This makes the testicles hang lower from the body, allowing a man or his partner to notice any abnormalities. It takes balls to see a doctor for some men, but if you have any questions or notice anything unusual, it’s both ballsy and smart.
For diagrams and more information about testicular self exams and health, check out:
Kim Rice and Ross Wantland are professionals in the field of sexuality and violence prevention. E-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org