Info For Teens
Your Penis and Testicles
Chances are that either you or someone you know has a penis. And where there’s a penis, there are testicles. Here are answers to questions that are commonly asked about the penis and testicles.
Key Parts: Male External, uncircumcised
Key Parts: Male External, circumcised
How big is my penis supposed to be?
One of the biggest concerns for many young men (and many grownups too, for that matter) is the size of their penis. Sometime during puberty, a boy's penis starts to get bigger. There isn't a set age at which this happens, but rest assured it happens to everyone.
There isn't a normal size for any particular age. However, most of all adult erect, or hard, penises are between five and seven inches long. Also, the size of a guy's penis when it's flaccid ("soft") doesn't really have anything to do with what it will be like when it's erect ("hard"). In fact, as they become erect, smaller flaccid penises tend to grow more than penises that are larger when they're flaccid.
What’s an erection, and why does it happen?
When a man gets aroused sexually, blood flows into his penis at a faster rate than it flows out. This is called vasocongestion. This causes the penis to get larger and harder, which is called getting an erection (or hard-on).
Sometimes erections can happen at the weirdest times. For example, you're sitting in math class taking a test, and all of a sudden you've got a hard-on. Turned on by algebra? Not likely. What you have is a spontaneous erection. Spontaneous erections are erections that you get when you're not sexually aroused.
Spontaneous erections can feel pretty embarrassing, but they go away fairly quickly if you ignore them. You can sing a song in your head, or try to say the alphabet backward to get your mind off it.
Spontaneous erections happen less and less frequently as you get older. They also seem to happen less frequently for men who have recently ejaculated by masturbation or by having sex with a partner.
What does circumcision mean?
Circumcision (or removal of the foreskin) is generally done shortly after birth. About 60 percent of boys in America are circumcised at birth (which means that 40 percent are not circumcised), making both circumcised and uncircumcised penises almost equally common. They both work the same way; they just look a little different.
Guys who have uncircumcised penises may need to pull the foreskin back when they urinate, put on a condom, and wash themselves.
What’s a wet dream?
Ever wake up in the morning to find that you ejaculated in your sleep? This is called a wet dream, and it's completely normal. Sometime while you were sleeping, you had a sexy dream, your penis got hard, and you ejaculated. Most guys have wet dreams occasionally. As you get older, you'll get them less and less. You'll also have wet dreams less often if you are ejaculating more while you are awake.
Why do I have testicles?
The testicles act as the body's sperm factory. Testicles churn out sperm hour after hour, day after day, starting when a boy hits puberty and lasting the rest of his life. The testicles also act as a storehouse for sperm once it's made, keeping it ready for the next time a man ejaculates.
An average pair of testicles can produce 150 million sperm in one day, and can store up to about two billion sperm at a time.
As if the testicles aren't busy enough, they're also in charge of pumping out testosterone — the hormone responsible for beards, bigger muscles, lower voices, and the sex drive. To top it all off, the testicles are an erogenous zone — an area that responds to sexual touch and stimulation. Many men enjoy having their testicles gently rubbed or stroked by their partner. But for other guys, testicles are a "hands-off" zone that needs to be respected.
Why do my testicles look like that?
Most guys have a set of two testicles. Even though many people call them "balls," testicles aren't exactly round — they're more oblong, like a football. Inside each testicle is an extra-long network of tiny tubes, called the seminiferous tubules. If you uncoiled these tubes, they'd stretch out for a distance of about 1,200 feet! These tubes are where sperm is made.
Sperm are finicky — they can't be made in just any condition. The temperature has to be just right, between three to five degrees cooler than body temperature. The testicles are kept exactly in this zone by the insulating sac called the scrotum. The scrotum is covered with wrinkly skin and a lining of hair, and everyone's looks a little different. Not all scrotums look exactly alike — they can be big or small, have a little or a lot of hair, and they vary in color.
If the outside temperature gets too cold, the muscles in the scrotum contract to bring the testicles closer to the body. The opposite happens if it gets too warm — the muscles loosen up, letting the testicles hang as far away from the body as possible. Both testicles can hang at the same height, but most guys have one lower than the other or one that's bigger than the other. Either way is perfectly O.K.
How do I take care of my testicles?
Most guys already know that testicles are pretty fragile — any hitting or twisting can be extremely painful. Testicles need to be protected and supported during sports with a jock strap and cup, and sex partners should treat them gently.
If a guy experiences sudden, sharp pain in a testicle, he should see a nurse or doctor right away — it could be a serious condition called testicular torsion, where the testicle becomes twisted inside the scrotum.
For itchiness, bumps, or any other changes, check with a nurse or doctor — it could be jock itch, a sexually transmitted infection, an abrasion from a zipper, or nothing at all.
Although it's extremely rare, some teenagers do get testicular cancer. You can keep an eye out for this condition by performing testicular self-exams every month, handling each testicle to learn what's normal for you so you can recognize any changes.
What are blue balls?
"Blue balls" is a slang term for an uncomfortable or slightly achy feeling in the testicles. This can occur when a man gets an erection but doesn't ejaculate. Guys don't get blue balls every time they get an erection. Think of all those times you got an erection during class. It may have been a bit uncomfortable, but the discomfort went away as quickly as the erection.