Hang time

The Chinese have something called Baoding balls. They’re for resting in your hand during periods of meditation and reflection.

Now maybe you’ve never used these exactly, but chances are at some point you’ve done something similar a certain body part, if you follow me. Nature’s Baoding balls, if you catch my drift. (Your testicles just to be clear.)

Frankly we wouldn’t blame you for having questions. When it comes to guys’ reproductive organs, one part of our anatomy tends to draw the focus. Like almost any three piece band, the front man gets all the attention. A genital Nirvana of sorts.

This article is going to move that focus left and right however. For a couple of reasons: one, because we’ve already covered the penis and two, your balls are more than just literal hangers on. They’re vitally important. It’s where the vast majority of your testosterone is made after all.

So what exactly are the factors that influence healthy testicles and what effect does size have on T levels or reproductive health?

Sizing things up

If the question is simply are testosterone levels and testicle size related, then the answer is a pretty straightforward, yes.  

Our pre-teen pair will typically measure only about 1 cubic centimetre and stay that way until the onset of puberty. At that point though they begin to grow rapidly. This is because T – made chiefly in the testicles remember – is the main driver of healthy male development. Physical shape, muscle mass, facial hair, libido, you name it.

Our boxer based boys are suddenly expected to produce enough natural miracle grow for every part of the body.

The journey to adulthood requires about a 10 fold increase in male hormone output. As children we’re making as little as 11-30 ng.dL. Compare that to the normal adult range of 300-1,000 ng.dL. As you might expect, such a sharp increase in demand calls for a little more room to work.

Average adult testicle size is said to be 2 inches (5cm) long, 0.8 inches (2cm) in breadth and 1.2 inches (3cm) in height. However, size can vary. If you don’t want to get bogged down in numbers, anywhere between a large walnut and a good sized egg is the right ballpark. Pun intended.

Lottery balls

So what exactly dictates who’s going to hit it big when it comes to cajones, as our Mexican friends would say? Well, the boring answer is it’s mainly hereditary.

Yup, more often than not what’s in your genes equals what’s in your jeans. If you come from a long line of men smuggling space hoppers down there, you can expect the same. Likewise if the family set is more modest, you’ll probably be carrying on that tradition.

It may sound obvious but there does appear to be connection between testicle size and overall phsique. A 2002 Korean study for instance, involving 2,700 men found what it called a,

“Significant but weak correlations between testicular volumes and height, body weight and body mass index.”

The team claim that taller men have bigger balls, while those who weigh less tend be on the smaller side. You have to wonder though if extra mass leads to bigger balls or if that sizable twosome are adding to the scales. It’s a kind of big chicken or massive eggs conundrum.

Another factor influencing size, besides weight and height, was location and exposure to high temperatures, which seems to limit growth to an extent.

Researchers also discovered those who lived in the countryside were 1.6 time more at risk of having lower testicular volume. However the work doesn’t offer a theory on why this is.

[Editor: Comments on a postcard people. Best suggestion wins a basket of eggs.]

Does size matter?

Smaller balls won’t stop you getting dates or having plenty of fun on them if they go well. But there may still be certain things to be mindful of. Namely, male hormone levels and fertility down the line.

Low T and testicle size are kind of a vicious circle really. We know that the amount of testosterone we’re exposed to in the womb has a big influence on how much we have to propel us into manhood.

So if mom’s been a bit mean with the womb service, it could mean smaller testicles. This in turn translates to less volume when you start brewing your own male hormone. Potentially this leaves those of us on the smaller end of the scale more open to low T.

Studies tell us that the average volume of adult testicles is somewhere between 15 and 25 millilitres.

Of course T isn’t the only thing expected from our bodies’ oval offices. There’s the small matter of sperm too. In fact, around 80% of a testicular volume is seminiferous tubules; tube-like structures that create sperm cells. So again space is the issue.

In 2014 a study by Lagos University of around 236 men reported that subjects with smaller balls tended to have reduced sperm density.

Turn up the volume?

Unfortunately, like their man in the middle, once you’re through puberty and your testicles have finished growing, that’s almost your lot. We say almost because certain environmental factors may temporarily influence size.

For example, a 1988 study, albeit on rats, found that when exposed to temperatures of 43 °C (109 °F) for as 15 minutes, testicle weight reduced by up to 65%.

On the flip side of that some claim that regular cold showers can give your balls a boost, size wise. We can’t confirm or deny that as of yet, but hey, where’s the harm in giving it a try. Bit of homework for you there lads.

Another tip, at least to hold on to what you’ve got, is to avoid synthetic testosterone. Steroid use can lead to freakish growth almost everywhere else, but cause serious shrinkage where it counts.

One study from the Journal of Urology reports that that regular steroid use saw a reduction in testicle size by 23%. Regular in injections of less than 5ml for just 16 weeks resulted in not only serious shrinkage but also a plummeting sperm count of less than 5 million per cc.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

The first thing to do if you’re worried about your testicle size is, don’t be.

Even when we talk about ‘small’ here for the most part we mean the lower end of normal. In reality, unless you have a pre-existing developmental problem, or have been abusing certain substances, chances are your nether region neighbors are both fine.

Despite what we said earlier, in many cases men with a more compact twin set are every bit as fertile as those who are a tad bigger.

If you’re still concerned however there are a few simple things you can try. Taking steps to boost natural T is a great start. Staying at the peak of your inbuilt output will help you not only improve physically and feel better mentally, but it should also contribute to healthier sperm which are stronger swimmers.

Keeping your lads cool is also a useful precaution. Not just with those cold showers we mentioned, but also by staying active.

Testes are at their best between 2 and 4 degrees below body temperature. Research shows sitting for too long causes your testicles to gradually heat up, causing a 40% drop in sperm count per 1 degree Celsius increase.

So there you go. Occasionally on this site we’ll be accused of talking bollocks while trying to be helpful. On this article at least I hope we’ve struck some kind of compromise.

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