We all know testicles are where sperm come from, and many male contraceptive methods involve manipulating the creation or motility of sperm. But how do they play their part in the reproductive system?
Testicles are the two oval-shaped “balls” on either side of a male’s penis. When a male reaches sexual maturity, the two testicles, also called testes, start to produce and store millions of tiny sperm cells. The testes are oval-shaped and grow to be about 2 inches (5 centimeters) in length and 1 inch (3 centimeters) in diameter.
The testicles are also part of the endocrine system. They produce hormones, including testosterone. Testosterone is the hormone that causes males to develop deeper voices, bigger muscles, and body and facial hair during puberty, and it also stimulates the production of sperm.
The testes, together with the epididymis, hang in a pouch-like structure outside the pelvis called the scrotum. This bag of skin helps to regulate the temperature of testicles, which need to be kept cooler than body temperature to produce viable sperm.
There is an opportunity to alter production of sperm and interrupt conception by changing the temperature of the scrotum. Research published this year found that men who wear tight-fitting underwear (tighty whiteys) could affect their fertility and reproductive efforts. Scientists are working on studies in the pipeline regarding new methods of male contraception that regulate the temperature of the scrotum, and have potential to alter sperm function – a promising lead for safe, reversible male contraception.
Learn more about male contraceptive methods in the R&D pipeline today.