The scrotum is part of the male's external genitals. Also called the scrotal sac, the scrotum is a thin-walled, soft, muscular pouch underneath the penis containing two compartments to hold the testicles.

Each testicle (small ball-like structures, that produce sperm and hormones) is connected to a cord, called the spermatic cord, that consists of blood vessels, tubes, and nerve and muscle fibers.

Under certain conditions, such as exercise, exposure to cold, and sexual arousal in particular, the muscle fibers in the scrotum cause the entire sac to contract and wrinkle up, drawing the testicles closer to the body.

In response to heat or total relaxation, the scrotum becomes very loose and soft, with a smooth surface, and the relaxed muscle fibers cause the testicles to hang farther from the body. These changes in the scrotum illustrate the primary function of the scrotum, which is to act as a natural climate control center for the testicles.

The temperature in the scrotum is a degree or two lower than the usual body temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The testicles need this lower temperature in order to carry out their job of producing viable sperm.

If the testicles are kept at body temperature or higher for a prolonged period, infertility or sterility can result. The scrotum continually monitors the environment for temperature changes and responds automatically in the way that is best for the production of healthy sperm.

A male's scrotum is very sensitive to touch and can be a source of sensual pleasure. Some men enjoy having their scrotum stroked and fondled during sexual activity with their partner. A gentle massaging of the scrotum from underneath, cupping the testicles in the palm of the hand, is often sensually pleasing to a male.

Some men report that they have learned to delay an impending ejaculation, thereby prolonging sexual play, by firmly but gently pulling down on their testicles. This is one technique used in tantric intercourse to prolong the sexual experience.

Copyright 2002 Sinclair Intimacy Institute