Balls, cojones, nuts, your local sidekicks, bollocks, nads, family jewels – whatever you call them, testicles are very important and so is their well-being. April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, so to get into the spirit of all things ballsy, here’s a quick guide on how to keep your balls nice and healthy, along with some facts that show just how special testicles are.
Unlike many cancers, testicular cancer is particularly common in younger people, usually affecting men between ages 15 to 35. American Cancer Society estimates that 8,720 new cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year alone. Out of these, 380 men will die.
The most common symptom is a painless lump on the testicle. Other less common symptoms can include a dull ache, discomfort or an unusual feeling of heaviness in the scrotum. If you’re ever unsure, it’s always best to pay your doctor a visit.
Medical professionals recommend men of any age give their testicles a small self-examination at least every month. Here’s how you do it.
- It's recommended you do it after a hot bath or shower as the skin is more relaxed and loose.
- Place the index and middle fingers under the testicle with the thumbs places on top. Firmly but gently roll the testicle between the thumbs and fingers to feel for any bumps on the surface.
- Find the epididymis, that's the soft, rope-like structure on the back of the testicle. This can easily be mistaken for an irregular mass due to its odd shape. But, if you get to know it, it should be easier to spot anything genuinely irregular.
It takes just a few minutes and it could save your life. The statistics might be scary, but if testicular cancer is detected early there is a 95 percent survival rate.
Not that you’d need more reasons to take care of your testes, but here is a selection of facts in celebration of these awesome little organs:
1) Testicles create 200 million sperm every day.
2) Proportional to their size, the animal kingdom’s biggest testicles belong to the tuberous bush cricket, with its testicles accounting for 14 percent of its body weight.
3) The word “avocado” derives from the Aztec word for testicle. The same is true for the word “orchid,” which is derived from the Greek for testicle.
4) Howler monkeys with smaller balls tend to have louder and deeper vocal calls. Any comparisons you want to draw are up to you.
5) How’s it hanging? It’s thought the testicles are outside the human body – despite the risk of having such an important organ extremely exposed – to cater for their sensitivity towards temperature as sperm survives best a few degrees cooler than normal body temperature. However, many mammals such as elephants, have theirs tucked up inside, near their kidneys.
6) Each sperm contains around 37.5 megabytes of “data.” That’s around 15.8 terabytes of data per “average” ejaculation.
7) Male right whales have testicles that weigh around 1 tonne (1.1 ton) and can produce 4.5 liters (1 gallon) of semen.
8) There’s an Icelandic brewery that brews beer with smoked fine whale testicle.
9) Testicles have the most diverse proteins of any organ. A study found that 77 percent of all human proteins are expressed in the testicles, 999 of which were unique proteins. That’s pretty impressive, considering the human brain has around 318 unique proteins.
10) Most testicles hang at different heights. For around 65 percent of men, the right testicle always hangs higher and is marginally larger. Weirdly, the majority of Greek statues of naked men nearly always featured a larger lefty. No one's quite sure why, although it’s thought to be something to with cultural beliefs about fertility and left-rightness.