(For most men, most boys, and anyone else who happens to have a penis.)
The most prominent part of the male anatomy is the penis. Know that floppy, dangly, tube-shaped thing at the top of your legs? The thing you pee out of. That’s your penis. It’s also known as “cock”, “dick”, “member”, “johnson”, and about 247,000 other slang terms of varying vulgarity, popularity, and descriptive inaccuracy. Sometimes the penis will stop being floppy and dangly and will instead get stiff and stand up, which is called an erection, or “hard-on” or “boner”. The penis has a number of components and points of interest that I want to mention, but let’s continue the tour and come back to them later.
Behind the penis is a lumpy bag. This bag is called the scrotum and the lumps inside it are the testicles. This part is also known as the “balls”, “nuts”, or “that thing that really really hurt and was sore for days when I accidentally got hit there that one time in PE”. There are typically two testicles in the scrotum. Sometimes the testicles dangle and sometimes they hug the body. When they dangle, it’s common for one to hang lower than the other. If you feel the scrotum, you should be able to feel both testicles, as well as a series of tubes connected to them. In many cases, the word “testicles” is used to refer to both the testicles and the scrotum.
Many testicle owners are afraid of handling them, since they have a reputation for being very sensitive and causing a lot of pain when injured. The truth is that you can often handle them quite safely. Just be gentle and work up from there until you find your limit. And handle them you should! If you’re a testicle owner, you should periodically conduct a testicular self exam for lumps that may be related to testicular cancer. (Just do an Internet search for instructions. The phrase “testicular self exam” generally leads to a fairly safe, medically oriented set of results.)
While you’re down in this area, you may have noticed a forest of short, curly hairs. These are pubic hairs, also known as the “bush”. The area that they cover and their density varies greatly from person to person. For some people, the patch of hair starts at the shoulders and stretches uninterrupted all the way down to the feet. For others, the hair is limited to the area immediately around the base of the penis and testicles. In still others, the hair is thickest around the penis and testicles, but may spread upward and start a colony around the navel. The testicles are usually covered in hair, while the penis is typically hair free beyond a certain elevation. Sometimes the color of pubic hair may not match the color of the hair elsewhere on your body. In some cases, people shave some or all of this hair away for various reasons. According to scientists, the only known purpose of pubic hair is to be particularly repulsive when found in a shower.
As you travel further back, between the legs and behind the testicles, you arrive at a long, fairly featureless stretch, called the perineum, sometimes also called the “taint”. On the surface, the most prominent landmark is the fold of skin in the middle, that looks like a sealed up seam, known as the raphe. If you trace this seam forward, you’ll find that it continues along the bottom of your scrotum and keeps going up to the tip of your penis. If you trace it backwards, you’ll find that it ends at your anus (which is our next stop).
The perineum is most notable for what lies beneath the surface. The structure of the penis continues into the body underneath the perineum. When you have an erection, the part of the penis located under the perineum also becomes hard, and you can feel it through the skin. Also, if you press inward, into the soft area just in front of your anus, you may be able to feel your prostate (Although more on that later).
The anus is as far back as we’re going to go on this trip. It’s the hole in your butt where poop comes out. Strangely, this area is also home to a notable point of interest, called the prostate. It takes a bit of spelunking to get to, though, so not everyone may wish to take this part of the trip. (If you plan venturing inside to find your prostate, be sure to clip your nails first, wear a rubber glove if you’ve got one, and use some form of lube, or else your trip will likely be short and even more unpleasant than it already is.) To find the prostate, venture a few inches inside and start pressing against the forward wall, as if you’re curving your finger to point at your belly button. You should find a hard, kinda roundish lump on the other side of the wall.
Okay, now, enough of that. Go wash your hands. Thoroughly.
Our tour now leaves the lower reaches and travels up, onto your chest. There you will likely find two nipples, one on each side. The nipples are largely pointless little nubs of skin that typically are surrounded by darker discs of skin which may of may not have hair growing out of them. Sometimes the nipples will get slightly hard and stick out. Most people regard nipples on the male body to be some sort of cosmic joke, although they do have some limited utility that I’ll get into in a later post.
Okay, let’s get back to the penis. Remember where it was? Good.
The part that’s sorta long and tube shaped and fairly smooth is called the shaft. The mushroom shaped squishy bit at the end is called the head or the glans. The ridge where the shaft connects to the glans is called the corona. The hole that pee comes out of, probably near the tip of your penis, is called the urethra. (Other stuff comes out of there, too, but more on that later.) The rest of the urethra is a tube that runs along the lower side of your penis, and may become more pronounced when you have an erection. Also on the lower side, there may be a band of skin that connects the shaft and the glans, called the frenulum.
You may have a turtleneck sweater-like bit of skin at the end of your penis, which probably covers all or most of the head when you’re soft. This is called the foreskin. The foreskin is usually pretty loose and can slide back and forth along your penis. It can be pulled back to expose the head (which often happens naturally when you have one of those erection things I mentioned earlier), or it can be pushed forward, past the tip of the head. (I’ll cover what’s likely to happen if you repeat that pull and push motion over and over in a later post…) If you don’t have that turtleneck sweater bit, don’t worry, that’s fairly common, too. It was probably just cut off and thrown away when you were a baby, in a process called circumcision. If you’re circumcised, there may be a ring scar that circles your penis. The skin on one side of the scar might be smooth and thin, while the skin on the other side might be rougher and thicker and a different color. There are many styles of circumcision, so it’s possible that you may not have a visible scar and that the smooth skin continues all the way to the head. Some circumcisions even eliminate the frenulum.
Penises come in many different shapes and sizes. The size of your penis has very little effect on what can be done with it. Often, a two-inch penis is just as useful as one that’s nine inches. The one you have probably even changes shape and size every once in a while. If you’re naked and cold, it’ll probably shrink and hide all close to your body. If it’s warm, it’ll probably hang lower. Sometimes, it’ll get wider, longer, and harder, and may stand up on its own. This is called an erection, and occurs when the spongy inner bits of your penis fill with blood. The size of an erect penis does not necessarily indicate how small you’ll be when you’re soft.
When you’re soft, your penis is floppy and can easily move and twist in any direction. When you’re hard with an erection, the movement of your penis is greatly restricted. (This has probably been known to cause a great many frustrating mornings, when you wake up with both a full bladder and a hard-on…)
Don’t worry if your penis isn’t a perfectly straight, perfectly symmetrical cylinder. Your erect penis may have a curve to it. It may lean one direction or the other, it might stick up, it might stick out, or it might stick down. There may be a slight twist to it. Veins may crisscross the shaft at all angles. And the whole thing may be lopsided in places. That’s all normal, every penis is unique. (In some extreme cases, the foreskin might not retract right or the circumcision might be too tight or the frenulum might be too short or something else could be wrong that causes a very sharp bend. In those cases, surgical intervention is often a possibility.)
This concludes the tour.
(You will notice that the tour did not stop at the magic orgasm button. That’s because there’s no such place. If you want an orgasm, you’re going to have to work for it. More on that later.)