AskDefine | Define scrotum

Dictionary Definition

scrotum n : the external pouch that contains the testes [also: scrota (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary



From scrōtum.




  1. The bag of skin and muscle that contains the testicles in mammals.


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Derived terms


the bag of the skin and muscle that contains the testicles

Extensive Definition

In some male mammals the scrotum is a protuberance of skin and muscle containing the testicles. It is an extension of the abdomen, and is located between the penis and anus. In humans and some other mammals, the base of the scrotum becomes covered with pubic hair at puberty. In common speech, the scrotum is often improperly referred to as the testicles, which actually refer to organs encased inside the scrotum. The scrotum is homologous to the labia majora in females. It becomes tight when sexually aroused.


The function of the scrotum appears to be to keep the testis at a temperature slightly lower than that of the rest of the body. For the human, a temperature around 34.4 degrees Celsius (94 degrees Fahrenheit) seems to be ideal; 36.7 degrees Celsius (98 degree Fahrenheit) may be damaging to sperm count. The temperature is controlled by moving the testicles closer to the abdomen when it is cold, and away when hot. This is done by the contracting and relaxing of the cremaster muscle in the abdomen and the dartos fascia (muscular tissue under the skin) in the scrotum. However, this may not be the main function. The volume of sperm produced by the testes is small, (0.1-0.2ml). It has been suggested that if testes were situated within the abdominal cavity that they would be subjected to the regular changes in abdominal pressure that is exerted by the abdominal muscles. This squeezing and relaxing would result in the more rapid emptying of the testes and epididymes of sperm before the spermatozoa were matured sufficiently for fertilisation. Some mammals--elephants and sea-mammals, for example--do keep their testes within the abdomen and there may be mechanisms to prevent this inadvertent emptying.
Contraction of the abdominal muscles, and changes in intraabdominal pressure, often can lift and lower the testicles within the scrotum. Contraction of the muscle fibers of the dartos tunic (or fascia) is completely involuntary and results in the appearance of increased wrinkling and thickening of the scrotal skin. The testicles are not directly attached to the skin of the scrotum, so this dartos contraction results in their sliding toward the abdomen. They also, in some men, can be lifted the same way by tightening the anus and pelvic muscles, doing Kegel exercises. Although the ideal temperature for sperm growth varies between species, it usually appears, in warm-blooded species, to be a bit cooler than internal body temperature, necessitating the scrotum. Since this leaves the testicles vulnerable in many species, there is some debate on the evolutionary advantage of such a system. One theory is that the impregnation of females who are ill is less likely when sperm is highly sensitive to elevated body temperatures.
An alternative explanation is to protect the testes from jolts and compressions associated with an active lifestyle. Animals that have 'stately' movements - such as elephants, whales, and marsupial moles - have internal testes and no scrotum.

Health issues

A common problem of the scrotum is the development of masses. Common scrotal masses include
Other conditions include:
  • contact dermatitis: may cause redness, burning, swelling, and itching of the entire scrotum. Can result from soaps, solvents, detergents, and natural irritants such as poison ivy.
  • inguinal hernia
  • yeast infection
  • swelling resulting from conditions external to the scrotum, including:


Additional images

Image:Illu penis.jpg|Structure of the male genitalia.
scrotum in Arabic: كيس الصفن
scrotum in Min Nan: Im-lông
scrotum in Bulgarian: Скротум
scrotum in Bosnian: Skrotum
scrotum in Catalan: Escrot
scrotum in Czech: Šourek
scrotum in Danish: Skrotum
scrotum in German: Hodensack
scrotum in Spanish: Escroto
scrotum in Esperanto: Skroto
scrotum in French: Scrotum
scrotum in Galician: Escroto
scrotum in Korean: 음낭
scrotum in Indonesian: Skrotum
scrotum in Italian: Scroto
scrotum in Icelandic: Pungur
scrotum in Hebrew: כיס האשכים
scrotum in Latin: Scrotum
scrotum in Lithuanian: Kapšelis
scrotum in Dutch: Scrotum
scrotum in Japanese: 陰嚢
scrotum in Norwegian: Pung
scrotum in Norwegian Nynorsk: Skrotum
scrotum in Low German: Klötensack
scrotum in Polish: Moszna (anatomia)
scrotum in Portuguese: Escroto
scrotum in Russian: Мошонка
scrotum in Simple English: Scrotum
scrotum in Slovak: Miešok
scrotum in Serbian: Скротум
scrotum in Sundanese: Kanjut
scrotum in Finnish: Kivespussi
scrotum in Swedish: Scrotum
scrotum in Tagalog: Bayag
scrotum in Vietnamese: Bìu dái
scrotum in Contenese: 春袋
scrotum in Chinese: 阴囊

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

bag, ballocks, balls, basket, beard, breasts, cervix, clitoris, cod, cods, cullions, family jewels, female organs, genitalia, genitals, gonads, labia, labia majora, labia minora, lingam, lips, male organs, meat, nuts, nymphae, ovary, penis, phallus, private parts, privates, privy parts, pubic hair, pudenda, reproductive organs, rocks, secondary sex characteristic, sex organs, spermary, testes, testicles, uterus, vagina, vulva, womb, yoni
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