Testicular tumors aren't always cancerous, but they are always something you need to get a doctor to check out. They tend to occur in babies and up to the age of six. Then boys almost never get them. The risk of testicular tumors starts again at puberty and continues into manhood.
These kinds of tumors show up as a lump in the ball sac, also known as the scrotum. They may hurt, but they may not. They can interfere with circulation so that the ball sac fills up with fluid and hangs down. This is a condition known as hydrocele. It also usually doesn't hurt. It's something that is much more common in older men, like your grandpa. However, up to 6 percent of guys have this happen before the age of 15. It's the sort of thing that shows up first when you were a baby. It can help to ask your parents if you had this when you were a baby so you can know whether it is likely you have it now.
These are problem issues with testicles. However, there are changes that happen at puberty (which can occur as early as nine or as late as seventeen) that are normal for boys entering manhood:
- When your groin gets hot (when you are exercising, for example), your balls hang down. There's a muscle called the cremaster that relaxes to let your testicles drop when your core temperature goes up. The testes make sperm when they are at a temperature of about 94 degrees F (34.5 degrees C). That's lower that the usual temperature of the rest of the body, 98.6 degrees F (37 degrees C). When your temperature goes up, your balls drop down. This is normal. It's also temporary.
- When your groin gets cold (when you skinny dip in a cold swimming pool, for example), your balls pull upward. The cremaster flexes to pull your testicles up toward your body to keep them warm enough for sperm production. Your penis doesn't actually shrink when this happens. The base of your penis is attached to your scrotum. When your body pulls your balls in, it also pulls your penis in, so less of the penis is visible. It's the same size it was before. It is just in a less visible location.
- Your testicles also move when you are sexually excited, whether or not you have an erection. Some guys get "dancing balls" when they are sexually stimulated. During puberty, this may seem to be just about all the time. That's part of another process:
- Your testicles draw up toward your body during sex (vaginal, anal, oral, or masturbation). There's a biological reason for this. Your testicles make sperm. The closer they are to your prostate when you ejaculate, the more sperm get into your semen. The biology of this response is that the closer your testicles are to your body, the more babies you make. You cannot, however, achieve birth control by pulling your balls down.
- In most men, the right testicle "rides" higher. It also pulls up more during sex.
What about testicles that haven't descended? About one in 50 boys will still have their testes inside their abdominal cavity when they reach puberty. This is the sort of thing that is usually noticed by the doctor when you are a baby and corrected with surgery before the age of five, but not every guy gets this kind of treatment. Because there are some serious problems that are connected with undescended testicles (especially testicular cancer about the time a man is in his twenties), it's the sort of thing you really need for your doctor to check out.
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