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Re: "ball-shrivelling scary"

Posted by Smokey Stover on April 04, 2006

In Reply to: Re: "Ball-shrivelling scary" posted by Bob on April 04, 2006

: : What does the phrase "ball-shrivelling scary"mean? thanks

: If anybody (in the process of answering this question) wants to see the script for the notorious "shrinkage" episode of Seinfeld, here it is: http://www.seinology.com/scripts/script-85.shtml

Not having easy access to a professional physiologist or physician, I'm going to answer this question as an amateur. In the first place, I think Bob just wanted to treat us to an episode of "Seinfeld" which treats of the fact that the male private parts may seem to shrivel in water, especially cold water. I'm not sure that the penis actually shrivels--it goes limp, but I never personally observed any shriveling except in very long exposure. And even then....

On the other hand, "ball-shrivelling scary" is a well-known phenomenon, except that it's the scrotum and not the balls that shrink. When our hypothalamus is told to be afraid, be very afraid, the body responds by withdrawing blood from the surface (by vasoconstriction), sometimes acting as though it were cold out there, with piloerection (goosebumps). When the scrotum contracts it may be to keep the testicles reasonably warm. They have to be cooler than the rest of the body, but without freezing. In any case, getting fearful, like getting cold, or swimming for a time, has the effect of causing the scrotum to contract, with the skin folding into wrinkles.
There are more pointed descriptions available, but this was the best I could find in short order. It's from the Encyclopedia Britannica Online, dealing with the sympathetic nervous system. 'Under conditions of stress, however, the entire sympathetic nervous system is activated, producing an immediate, widespread response that has been called the "fight or flight" response. This is characterized by the release of large quantities of epinephrine from the adrenal gland, an increase in heart rate, an increase in cardiac output, skeletal muscle vasodilation, cutaneous and gastrointestinal vasoconstriction, pupillary dilation, bronchial dilation, and piloerection. The overall effect is to prepare the individual for imminent danger.'
Vasodilation: you increase the readiness of the long muscles by widening the veins and arteries. You decrease the energy flow to the GI tract and peripheral areas (like skin) by narrowing the blood vessels (vasoconstriction), and get a shrinking scrotum (not specifically mentioned in this brief description). More than you needed to know? .SS.