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Checking in with your testes

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

How do I perform a testicular self-exam?

Before you start, here are two things to keep in mind:

  • Don't worry if one testicle is bigger than the other or hangs lower. That’s normal.

  • It's easy to mistake the epididymis for an unusual mass. The epididymis is a coiled set of tubes that lines the back and top of each testicle. It’s the portion of the reproductive system where the sperm “mature” or learn to swim. It will feel softer and bumpier than the testicle it's attached to.

Here's how to self-examine your testes:

  • Set aside five minutes while you're in the shower. A warm shower will relax the scrotum and the muscles holding the testicles, making an exam easier.

  • Starting with one side, gently roll the scrotum with your fingers to feel the surface of the testicle. Check for any lumps, bumps or unusual features. Remember that lumps and bumps may be painless. Be aware of any dull soreness or heaviness. You should look and evaluate the following:

  • Size - almost equal size, it is normal for one testicle to be slightly larger than the other

  • Surface - regular and smooth

  • Shape – round and egg-like

  • Texture - soft and bouncy

  • Switch sides and check the other testicle.

What should I do if I find something?

See your doctor as soon as you can. On average, men wait between four and six months to make an appointment, which could allow the issue to get a lot worse. No guy is particularly thrilled about discussing his testicles, but there’s no reason to feel embarrassed. Depending on the circumstances, your doctor might do a testicular exam followed by a blood test or an ultrasound, if necessary.

How often should I check?

It’s recommended that you perform a self-exam once a month. By checking regularly, you’ll have an easier time noticing when something has changed. Most men are intimately aware of their genitalia and any changes that occur. The most important lesson is that if you feel something abnormal, seek a professional opinion right away.

What else could a testicular lump be?

Fortunately, most testicular masses are not cancer. Even so, any change or irregularity in the scrotum or testicles requires a visit to your doctor. While benign, the following testicular conditions can cause intense discomfort and threaten fertility:

  • Cysts (can form in the testicle, epididymis or structures around the testicle)

  • Infection

  • Injury

  • Varicocele (enlargement of the veins within the loose bag of skin that holds the testicles)

  • Hydrocele (collection of fluid around the testis)

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