MEN, your testicles are the equivalent of our ovaries. They create and carry your valuable contribution to the baby-making group project — sperm cells. But unlike women, who are born with all our eggs already in the ovaries, you make fresh sperm everyday. This means that changes in your lifestyle, both positive and negative, can affect the quantity and quality of sperm you produce. It goes without saying, then, that you must ensure your testes are healthy and well cared for.
Doctor Hamish Hayden says 'the boys' are important for many reasons. “In addition to producing and storing sperm to be used in procreation, the testes are also the organs responsible for producing testosterone and other hormones in men. These hormones affect your physical features such as hair growth, muscle mass, and even your sex drive.”
Dr Hayden gives these tips for maintaining optimal testicular health:
Keep them cool
Sperm like cooler temperatures, the doctor says. “This is precisely why the testicles hang outside of the body instead of being inside like the female gonads (ovaries). You will notice that they are pulled up closer to your body when you are cold, and hang more freely when you are hot. They do this to regulate their temperature.” Hayden recommends, especially because of our warm climate, that you choose cool fabrics such as cotton for your underwear, and wear loose-fitting pants. “Also, avoid increased heat on the testes for long periods such as from hot tubs, or placing laptops directly on your legs.”
Keep them clean
“Odour, bacteria and fungi thrive in warm areas, including the pubic area,” Dr Hayden says. “So, it is important for you to keep down there clean and fresh. At the very least, you should bathe once per day and as soon as you can after working out, or any activity that increases sweat production.”
The doctor recommends that you use a light powder or barrier cream if you notice that you sweat excessively or have a funk down there.
While it is more of a matter of preference than hygiene when it comes to hair on the ball sac, many men find it easier to care for the boys when they are bald. (Many women prefer them that way too). Dr Hayden cautions that if you choose to trim or get rid of your man hair, do so with care. “The skin on the testicles is extremely thin and sensitive so you have to be gentle with them,” he notes. “Epilatory procedures [that remove even hair under the surface] such as waxing can be extremely painful, and hair removal creams and razors may cause irritation. You may feel comfortable using a pair of scissors or shears to trim away excess hair.”
Pro tip: Ask your partner to help you out. She can see what's happening better.
Protect them from shock and trauma
“Testicular trauma can irreversibly affect your fertility and anatomy,” Dr Hayden says, “So, it is better to be safe than sorry. As much as possible, try to keep them safe from injury due to forceful impact, friction, infection dislocation and tearing.”
The doctor recommends wearing jockstraps when playing certain sports, wearing correct male cycling gear, and wearing your seatbelt when driving.