Sexual Health > Penis and Testicle Health > Penis and Testicle Health - Overview

The Facts About Penis and Testicle Health

Taking care of your genitals benefits your sexual health as well as your overall well-being.

An eggplant is placed adjacent to two oranges like penis and testicles.

So many factors go into taking care of your penis and testicle health. You have to protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), take care of your libido and overall sexual function, practice good hygiene habits and more.

Find out what you need to know about all things regarding penis and testicle health.

Signs of a healthy penis

The penis has a few very important jobs, and keeping your penis healthy is essential to keeping yourself healthy. When it's in good form, your penis should expel urine from your body, make it possible for you to engage in and enjoy sex, and allow you to reproduce—all without any problems or pain.

You should regularly inspect your penis visually to ensure that it looks healthy. Any abnormal symptoms that appear could signify an STI or other potentially serious underlying condition.

If you see any of these signs or symptoms on your penis, you should consult your doctor:

  • Itchy or painful rash
  • Bruises
  • Pain, particularly after some sort of trauma to the area
  • Blisters, small red bumps, warts or a mass
  • A new bend
  • Difficulty achieving and maintaining an erection
  • Difficult or painful urination
  • Bleeding during urination or ejaculation
  • Swelling at the tip
  • A painless sore on the shaft
  • Yellowish-green discharge
  • Painful erections and/or sex

Wash your penis

Practicing good hygiene is important to maintaining penis health. You should gently wash your penis under warm water—with soap—daily. If you happen to be uncircumcised, hygiene is especially important. When the penis isn't washed regularly, a cheese-like substance known as smegma can accumulate beneath the foreskin, which can lead to a foul smell, infection and more.

Uncircumcised men who don't maintain good hygiene can develop inflammation, irritation, or swelling and redness of the head of the penis, a condition called balanitis, as a result. So next time you're thinking about rushing through a shower or skipping it, remember that washing your penis—and the rest of your body, for that matter—is just as important as brushing your teeth.

How to prevent STIs

The only surefire way to not contract an STI is to abstain from sex altogether. Most adults don't choose to live that way. Fortunately, there are several measures you can take to significantly lower your risk of contracting an STI.

You can protect yourself in the following ways:

  • Have sex with only one person—who doesn't have any STIs—who has sex with only you.
  • Limit the number of sexual partners you have.
  • Get tested for STIs regularly. This is important because STIs may not manifest with any physical symptoms initially.
  • Have sex only with partners who also get tested regularly and who test negative.
  • Use protection, such as condoms and dental dams.

Condoms don't guarantee STI prevention, but using them does significantly reduce your risk of infection. Traditional latex condoms, while effective, can cause adverse reactions in individuals with latex allergies. Fortunately, condoms that are made from different materials, such as polyurethane, polyisoprene and lambskin, are accessible.

When to see a doctor

Inspect your penis regularly for any changes in appearance, function or feeling. If you have any persistent or worrisome symptoms, or sustain any trauma to your genital area, see a healthcare professional immediately.

Some symptoms may be the result of a harmless and easily treatable condition. Others may be more serious and require early treatment to prevent complications.

Maintain penis health

Guaranteeing perfect penis health is impossible. You can, however, take several steps that will significantly increase your chances of maintaining good penis health.

These measures include the following:

  • Wash your penis with warm water and soap daily.
  • Visually inspect your penis for changes or abnormalities regularly.
  • Limit your sexual partners.
  • Get tested for STIs regularly.
  • Practice safer sex.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Take care of your overall health, since other conditions (e.g., high blood pressure, diabetes) can affect the penis.
  • Quit smoking. The use of tobacco is a risk factor for genitourinary cancers.

Common myths and misconceptions

People talk about the penis in any number of ways and from varying levels of authority. It seems everyone has opinions on what size and shape the appendage should be, whether it should be circumcised or not, and the list goes on.

Three common misconceptions in particular, though, need to be debunked.

Size matters

Some version of "bigger is better" has been jokingly repeated in countless television shows and movies and by people in general. But in reality, for most people, it's about how you wield what you have that matters most. Many people don't favor one penis size over another—and often, people favor girth more than length anyway. It comes down to personal preference.

It's unbreakable

Despite popular misconception, the penis can be broken, even though it technically doesn't contain any bones. The penis shaft contains multiple components that help a man maintain an erection. If too much pressure is put on the shaft at the wrong angle, it can snap. When that happens, it constitutes an emergency.

Circumcised penises are cleaner

Uncircumcised penises are often spoken about as if they are somehow inherently dirtier than their circumcised counterparts. In reality, if proper hygiene is practiced, the penis will be clean whether or not the foreskin is present.

What are testes?

The testicles, which are also called male gonads or testes, are male sex organs that produce sperm and sex hormones, such as testosterone. In most adult men, the testes are slightly smaller than a golf ball.

The testes are located inside the scrotum, which is the sac of skin that is suspended just below the base of the penis. The sex hormones produced by the testes are responsible for the development of body hair, stronger muscles and the deepening of the voice.

Anatomy of sperm production

Spermatogenesis is a process by which sperm cells are created inside the testicles. More specifically, spermatogenesis takes place within seminiferous tubules, which number in the hundreds and are located in both testicles.

After about 74 days, sperm cells reach maturation and then are pushed to the epididymis, the tube that runs along the back of each testicle. The vas deferens, which is connected to the epididymis, is the tube through which sperm travels on its way out of the body when a man reaches sexual climax and ejaculates.

Risk factors for testicular disorders

While growing old is one of the main—and unavoidable—risk factors for developing any number of conditions, testicular problems occur throughout men's lives. Testicular torsion often occurs in teenagers and testicular cancer affects younger men, with the average age at diagnosis being 33. The highest risk for testicular problems—cancer, torsion, hydroceles, epididymitis—is found in men ages 20 to 54.

Other factors that increase an individual's risk for testicular disorders include the following:

  • A poor diet
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Race (Black men are at higher risk for some testicular disorders, but white men get testicular cancer more often.)
  • Family history
  • High testosterone levels
  • Being on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT)
  • Smoking
  • Having undescended testicles
  • Being HIV positive

Symptoms of penis and testicle problems

If you experience persistent or worrisome symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.

Symptoms that often serve as signs of penis and testicle problems include the following:

  • Inflammation or swelling of the penis
  • Bloody semen or urine
  • Difficult or painful urination
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED)
  • Pain in the scrotum
  • Painful sex or ejaculation
  • Pain in the abdomen, lower back, hips or groin
  • Yellow or green discharge from the penis

Presence of any masses, bumps, lesions or sores

Treating testicular disorders

Treatment for testicular disorders depends largely on the type and severity of the condition, the symptoms an individual is experiencing, and their personal preferences.

Treatments can range from rest and medication to biopsy and chemotherapy to surgical removal of one or both testicles.

Prevention and aftercare

Unfortunately, there's no sure way to fully protect yourself against penis and testicular medical conditions. There are measures you can take to reduce your risk level.

Reduce your risk level by:

  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining good hygiene habits
  • Improving your sleep habits
  • Staying at a healthy weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Abstaining from excessive alcohol intake


How long can the average man stay erect? 

Most men can stay erect anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour. However, this can vary greatly from person to person as erections are impacted by many factors, such as age, physical health, sexual health, arousal, underlying conditions and more.

Which foods are penis-healthy?

Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet low in processed foods and carbohydrates can benefit your penis health. Additionally, some research has found eating flavonoid-rich foods may help reduce occurrences of erectile dysfunction.

How can I keep my testicles healthy?

You can strengthen your testicle health by exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy diet, keeping your testicles cool to help prevent injury to sperm, and quitting smoking.

What are signs of testicular problems?

Pain or pressure in the scrotum, uncomfortable or painful sex and ejaculation, abdominal pain, bone pain and bloody semen are just a few symptoms that are signs of potential testicular problems.

What is good for testicle health?

Keeping your testes cool, avoiding pants that are too tight around the testicle area, eating healthy, exercising regularly, abstaining from smoking, performing monthly at-home testicular exams and practicing safer sex are just a few measures you can take to reduce your risk for testicular problems.