Health And Wellness

What It Means If A Man Has Low-Hanging Testicles (AKA Saggy Balls)

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Women aren't the only ones out there with massive insecurities about our bodies. Though it can hard to believe, there are countless men who feel like their bodies are just as scrutinized as those of women.

One major source of embarrassment and shame for men comes in the form of drooping testicles. That's right, low-hanging testicles (sometimes less graciously referred to as saggy balls).

While women with saggy breasts may be able to boost their egos with the help of push-up bras, for men with low-hanging testicles, that just isn't an option.

And cosmetic appearances aside, many men wonder if sagging or low-hanging testicles are a sign of anything concerning their physical health.

What causes low-hanging testicles (AKA saggy balls)?

Low-hanging testicles are just testicles that don't rest as high or hang as close to the body as they do on others, and instead, hang loosely or farther away.

There are a few reasons this may occur.

1. Testicles shrink and droop to maintain the ideal temperature for sperm production and storage.

The thing about testicles is, well ... they are designed to droop! When they droop they are doing their job of both making and protecting sperm, as well as producing testosterone — and doing it very well.

Do you know what testicles spend most of their time doing? (And no, this is not a hilarious joke for you to share the next time you're out at a happy hour.)

When your testicles hang away from your body, they're doing this for a very good reason: Testicles spend a good deal of their time shrinking or drooping in order to keep a man's sperm at the ideal temperature.

You see, while a healthy human body stays a toasty 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit or thereabouts, "sperm production occurs at around 93.2ºF (34ºC). This is 5.4ºF (3ºC) below normal body temperature of 98.6ºF (37ºC )."

When your body gets too cold, the cremaster muscle (responsible for lowering the testicles down and lifting them back up) makes sure your scrotum and testicles contract and sit closer to the body for warmth. And when your body gets too warm or sweaty, they droop down to keep your sperm fit, healthy and viable.

See? Your testicles may not have brains, but they do have the natural gifts of shrinkage and droop, and the cremaster makes sure that all stays as it should be in Testicle Town.

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2. Testicles droop even more with age.

All of that said, gravity is a brutal mistress!

Saggy testicles may also be due to aging, as there is a decrease in the skin's mechanical properties as you get old. This happens naturally to the skin all over your body, as with time, your skin loses collagen, causing layers of the skin to stretch more.

While testicles first descend during puberty (often between the ages of 10 to 13) and are supposed to droop when too warm, as you grow older, the weight of your testicles and diminishing elastic properties of collagen in your skin can lead your testicles to start swinging a little bit lower a bit more often than they once did.

For most men, these effects of aging will be at least somewhat noticeable by the age of 50, and should not be cause for concern.

3. In some cases, low-hanging testicles may be caused by varicoceles.

Another cause of low-hanging testicles could be a varicocele which, according to Dr. Harry Fisch, a clinical professor of urology and reproductive medicine in New York, "is a swelling of the veins surrounding the testicles. This phenomenon is due to a backflow of blood that causes the blood vessels to engorge."

While most droopy testicles are caused by gravity, time, and the innate function of testicles themselves, there is a condition men should be aware of when it comes to monitoring their own droopy testicles.

While a little droop is natural when droopy testicles are caused by varicoceles — which, explained earlier, is essentially the same thing as varicose veins in the leg, but occurring within the scrotum — it should be addressed by a medical professional.

While some varicoceles occur without any obvious symptoms, a few signs to look for include low-hanging testicles and asymmetric testicles.

"[Where] one side — usually the left — droops lower than the other," feeling like "a bag of worms."

"Patients may have a sensation of shifting inside their scrotum," notes Fisch. And the pain in the testicles accompanying the sagging.

For the most part, testicles hanging too low is strictly a matter of cosmetics, but that's not the case when it comes to a varicocele.

Dr. Fisch adds, "If you have a varicocele, warm blood from your abdomen can pool in your scrotum, raising the temperature. This rise in temperature is why men with varicoceles often have low-hanging scrotal sacs. As the temperature grows, your testicles move farther away from your body to seek a cooler environment, causing an elongated scrotum."

It's been estimated that somewhere around 20 percent of adolescent males and 15 percent of adult males have varicoceles. If left untreated, varicoceles can cause low sperm production, decreased sperm quality, shrinkage/atrophy of the affected testicle, and/or infertility, although most do not require treatment.

If necessary, this condition can be treated by a varicocelectomy, a simple procedure with very little recovery time.

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When are low-hanging testicles a reason for concern?

Most men who have low-hanging testicles shouldn't have a problem unless the position is impacting their quality of life.

That said, low-hanging testicles can feel uncomfortable for some men and, in certain cases, could lead to a drop in testosterone levels and/or infertility.

A man may also have low-hanging testicles if he has certain medical conditions, such as a cyst or inguinal hernias (tissue poking through abdominal muscles), which may the testicles can look saggier.

If anything looks or feels abnormal or painful in a man's groin or prostate, he should certainly see a doctor to rule out anything more serious that may be going on.

Can you prevent your testicles from sagging?

Most internet hacks for tightening up low-hanging testicles are nothing but hype.

If you have testicles and have noticed them drooping, the worst thing in the world that you could ever do is go on the internet and try to figure out how to "fix" the problem.

Let me help you out right now before you go further down the rabbit hole and wind up on some subreddit for men with tragically saggy testicles: don't believe the hype.

Hacks and myths like wearing tighter underwear, using creams or lotions, taking vitamins or hormones, or even masturbating less are all things people on the internet have recommended for treating overly saggy testicles.

In fact, wearing tighter underwear might make your testicles feel less saggy while you're wearing them, but they will not help with a permanent solution. Using creams can certainly help moisturize your skin and maybe slow down the gradual loss of elasticity, same with moisturizers and vitamins, but they won't magically help your testicles from sagging. And lastly, masturbating and performing any other sexual activities has no effect on a man's skin elasticity or the size of his testicles.

Here's something important to remember: unless your testicles are sagging an excessive amount due to a legitimate medical condition (we'll get to that next), there is no scientific evidence to back up the idea that any of these so-called techniques will stop, let alone reverse, testicle sag.

There are certain things men can do to prevent testicles from sagging, which include surgery and exercising the testicles.

Kegel exercise aims to find and activate the pubococcygeal (PC) muscles, which are key in supporting penis and testicle health. A man's PC muscles are muscles that can hold back their stream of urine.

In kegel exercises, men contract those muscles like they are trying to cut off their urine stream. By doing this, men can improve the strength of their pelvic floor, which helps with issues not just in the testicles, but the prostate and penis.

Another exercise to prevent testicles from sagging is called testicular holding, which is can be compared to weight training except for testicles.

To do this, a man has to hold both his testicles in one hand and pull downward on them. This activates the PC muscles. Doing this for 5 minutes a day might make the PC muscles stronger and activate them faster than just from kegels.

In general, staying healthy will prevent testicles from sagging — not smoking, avoiding sun exposure, drinking less alcohol, staying active, and eating healthy.

If you do chose to have surgery, a procedure called scrotoplasty raises the testicles and helps keeps the scrotum from hanging.

The surgery involves the doctor removing extra skin from the scrotum, letting the testicles rest higher up. However, results of a scrotoplasty are not permanent and can wear off over time because there's no way to make your skin stop growing as you age.

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cats, Batman and Margo. Her work focuses on relationships, pop culture, and news. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.