They do so much more than produce sperm.
Testicles. Where do we start? It’s one of those body parts that we talk a lot about, but not precisely in terms of health and their function. We’ve turned them into symbols of virility and manhood, as well as emblems of strength, bravery, and courage. We’re told we should be more ballsy in life or to grow a pair whenever we have to leave our fears behind, but do we really discuss the importance of testicles for the male body, or do you think you know everything about them? Probably not. I was impressed with how many things go on in that part of the body, and I think you’ll also find it not just interesting, but useful. For instance, did you know that the avocado toast you love so much would be called testicle toast, if we translated it literally? Suddenly, it doesn’t sound that appetizing anymore, right? Well, the word comes from the Spanish word aguacate which derived from the Nahuatl (language used by the Aztecs, and still being used in some parts of Mexico) word ahuácatl, which means testicles. I'm sure you can imagine why. Well, I must admit this tidbit wasn’t really that useful, but the ones we’re going to talk below are actually going to deal with more important issues. So, sit down, get comfortable, and get ready to learn more about those little avocados you have down there.
Some men have more than two testicles.
Yes, the human body is a perfect machine, but there are unique cases that go beyond the established pattern. This is the case of people born with an extremely rare condition called polyorchidism (for thousands of years, orchids have been associated with testicles. If you remember your etymology lessons, you might already know what this is about). The 100 men who have been registered with this condition develop one to three extra testicles behind the scrotum. Interestingly, this doesn’t seem to affect their fertility. On the contrary, some of the recorded cases have been able to conceive even after a vasectomy.
It’s normal to find lumps and bumps.
Ok, this is more of a always-go-see-your-doctor-whenever-you-find-something-unusual thing. Basically, most bumps and lumps are absolutely normal and harmless. They can be caused by varicocele (enlarged veins) and epididymal cysts (lumps in the back of testicles filled with fluid) that when checked and treated properly can mean no harm at all. But remember, if you find one you must go to your doctor immediately to discard cancer, so it’s also very important for you to touch your testicles regularly to see if there’s any changes in them.
It’s normal if they move by themselves.
Have you ever felt your testicles moving on their own? Well, you probably have, and that’s absolutely normal. As you know, these organs are filled with veins, so there’s a huge amount of blood flowing there that can cause involuntary movements. Moreover, testicles are very sensitive to temperature, which is why these highly important organs are actually outside the body: they need a special temperature to work properly. Having said that, the muscles in this region work very hard to keep the perfect temperature. That’s why they also move when the muscles work to fulfill their task.
Men’s balls are some of the smallest in the animal kingdom.
Besides being a useful fact about the functioning of testicles, this is a fun fact you can drop in a conversation to keep things going. When it comes to the proportions between the testicles and the body, human testicles are some of the smallest in the animal kingdom. Surprisingly, the bushcricket has the biggest balls of all the species in the world. Now, evolutionary theory dictates that the size of the testicles is proportionate to the reproductive conduct of the species. So, in this case, these insects release much more sperm to increase the chances of having more babies that reach adulthood and continue the species. So, be grateful yours aren’t as big as the cricket ones ,or you’d literally have thousands of kids.
A study claims that people with smaller testicles sleep less.
According to a study by the University of Southern Denmark, there’s a correlation between a person's ability to sleep properly and the size of their testicles. Of about 1,000 subjects who said to have insomnia, inconsistent sleep cycles, or that had difficulties falling asleep every night, their sperm count was 29% percent lower than those with higher counts. However, they claim that, although it’s not a rule and that not all individuals with smaller testicles are doomed to have terrible sleep disorders, they still believe there’s a big correlation between these two facts that they’re willing to study more thoroughly.
They contain a large percentage of the body's proteins.
Of all the organs of the male body, testicles are the ones that contain the largest percentage of the body's proteins. According to the Human Protein Atlas (HPA), a Swedish program, 77 percent of all the proteins found in the human body are found in the testicles. Moreover, 999 of these proteins are unique to the testicles, which is three times more than the ones the brain has, or even the heart.
Men with bigger testicles are more likely to develop heart disease.
Well, we talked about the downside of small testicles, according to some studies. Now, it’s time to talk about the big ones. A study revealed that people with larger testicles are more likely to develop heart disease. The study analyzed 2,800 people, and after following them for about seven years, they realized that those with the biggest testicles had or were on the verge of developing heart conditions. Now, as we said before about the correlation between size and sleep, this doesn't determine anything 100%. The study also found that they were more prone to drinking and bad eating habits. The researchers claim that this correlation has more to do with the amount of testosterone produced by the testicles than with their size.
As you can see, your testicles are more than just indicators of virility and manhood. They have specific functions that can be related to your overall health, and for that reason, it’s important for you to take care of them. Seeing your doctor regularly is a good place to start.
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Cover art by @randylewiscreative