The testicles

The testicles are two small, oval-shaped organs, contained in a sac of skin called the scrotum. They hang below the penis. The testicles are sometimes called the testes. They are the main organs of the male reproductive system. From puberty, the collecting tubules inside the testicles produce sperm. The sperm can fertilise a female egg to make a baby.

Testicle
Testicle

View a large version

Read a description of this image


Sperm travels from the tubules to a coiled tube called the epididymis. This feels like a soft swelling at the back of the testicle. The epididymis widens to become the spermatic cord (vas deferens). This joins to a shorter tube called the ejaculatory duct. The ejaculatory duct connects to the urethra. This is the tube from the bladder to the end of the penis.

Sperm mixes with fluid from the prostate and seminal vesicles (glands that sit just under the bladder) before it is forced (ejaculated) along the urethra and out from the penis. The ejaculated fluid and sperm are called semen.

Male reproductive organs
Male reproductive organs

View a large version

Read a description of this image


The testicles also produce the hormone testosterone. Hormones are chemical messengers that help to control different activities in our bodies. Testosterone helps with:

  • your sex drive (libido)
  • getting an erection
  • having a deep voice
  • facial and body hair
  • muscle development.

Back to Understanding testicular cancer

About testicular cancer

Testicular cancer is more common in young to middle-aged men. There are two main types of testicular cancer – seminoma and non-seminoma.

Testicular self-examination

Checking your testicles monthly from puberty can help to pick up testicular cancer earlier, when it’s easier to treat.

What is cancer?

Cancer is a disease of our cells. Sometimes cells go wrong and become abnormal. They keep dividing to make more abnormal cells which form a lump or tumour.

The lymphatic system

The lymphatic system includes lymph nodes (glands). Sometimes cancer cells can spread to lymph nodes near to the cancer.