Testicular self-examination: how to do it and all you need to know
The testicles are the male gonads, standing out precisely for being the male reproductive organs. They are very important in sexual development, acting as coproducers in the formation of sperm and also in the sex hormones themselves, especially testosterone, which is the hormone responsible for regulating sexual development in men, sexual function and level of desire.
Where do we find them? Inside the scrotum. Basically they consist of a pair of balls with dimensions of around 5 centimeters long and 3 centimeters wide. Although both tend to have a similar size and appearance, the truth is that it is completely normal for one testicle to hang a little more than the other (usually occurs with the left testicle).
They become one of the most delicate areas of the body of man, being tremendously sensitive to touch and pressure. For this reason, sometimes it is common to feel testicle pain, which arises especially when an injury or a testicular blow occurs.
But it can also appear for other reasons: due to infection or inflammation of the spermatic ducts (epididymitis), the infection or inflammation of the testicles (orchitis), the presence of cysts in the epididymis (spermatocele) or even the existence of kidney stones.
What is testicular self-examination? What does it consist of?
Testicular self-examination is a simple and easy method that allows you to feel and touch the testicles, becoming a useful option to examine the testicles and make sure that there are no unusual bulges or bumps.
We must bear in mind that the testicles contain blood vessels and different structures that can make the testicular self-examination a bit more complicated. However, if at first you notice a lump or changes in the testicle, it is important - and advisable - to go to the urologist for a more specialized assessment.
For this reason, many specialists recommend a testicular self-exam every month, which will allow the man to become familiar with the normal shape, size and texture of his testicles, and will offer the possibility of discovering the presence of something different or abnormal in the future, if it appears.
This self-examination is even more important in those men who suffer from cryptorchidism, have a family history of testicular cancer, or have already had a testicular tumor before.
Testicular cancer is a rare type of cancer in adolescents, although in general terms it becomes the most common in men aged 15 to 35 years. However, despite this it continues to be a type of cancer with a fairly low incidence, compared to other types of cancers.
How to do the testicular self-exam
Having a testicular self-exam is very simple. The most advisable thing is to do the self-examination when you are taking a bath or a hot shower (or a few minutes later), since at these temperatures the scrotum will be more relaxed, and will therefore allow for an easier examination.
Then follow these steps:
- Examine a testicle first: palpate the testicle gently, turning it between the fingers of both hands while applying light pressure. Now place your thumbs on the top of the testicle, with the big toe and the index finger of each hand, and then gently rotate it between the fingers.
- The epididymis: It is normal for you to feel a kind of soft cord that if you push it a bit it tends to hurt. It is located on the posterosuperior border of each testicle, and is the conduit that transports the sperm.
- Feel with care: It is important that when you feel each testicle you do it carefully, trying to detect the presence of possible bulges or bumps on the sides or in the front of the testicles. Sometimes it is normal to feel a small lump like a grain of rice (benign protrusion called granuloma).
What do I do if I notice something strange in the testicle?
If you notice any type of lump, swelling or any change in the size or color of the testicle is very important to go immediately to your doctor, which will make a more specialized and specific assessment.
But do not be alarmed: bulges or swelling do not necessarily imply the presence of cancer, as we indicated you do some lines before the presence of a granuloma. However, it is very important to receive the specialist's assessment.
Main risk factors for testicular cancer
Taking into account that most physicians advise regular self-examination of testicles when there is a risk factor or symptom, it is especially useful to know what these risk factors are:
- Cryptorchidism:In some cases, the descent of the testes to the scrotum does not occur during embryonic development, or occurs after birth. These children have a higher risk of developing testicular cancer.
- Environmental factors:The continuous and prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures of cold or heat, or to chemical products for work reasons, can influence. However, this association is not entirely clear.
- Genetic factors:Inheritance seems to have a great influence on this type of cancer. It is estimated that about 3% of men with germ cell tumors have a family history of this cancer.
What do doctors say about testicular self-exam?
As pointed out by the American Cancer Society, "the monthly self-examination of the testicles is a personal decision of each man", so that if the man presents a series of risk factors that increase the chances that he may suffer from testicular cancer, It is advisable to "seriously consider self-examination monthly".
In this case, the opinion of many doctors is mixed. And while some doctors advise that all men test their testicles monthly after puberty, others do not recommend it because it would increase stress and anxiety, especially because they would not have been studied enough if this type of self-exam reduces the rate of mortality of this cancer.
That is, if a man does not present any risk factor or symptoms, many experts do not know if performing this self-exam regularly would decrease the chances of dying from this cancer, according to the National Library of Medicine.
In any case, as we mentioned, Whether or not to perform a regular testicular self-exam is a personal and individual decision, which can be useful in many cases.
Information about testicular cancer
Testicular cancer is a type of cancer that usually originates in the testicle. According to the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM), in most men -9 out of 10-this tumor is generated from the germ cells, which are cells that after adolescence mature to produce sperm.
It is a type of cancer more frequent in men between 15 to 35 years, whereas, from that age, it is actually unusual for it to appear.
There are a series of symptoms that usually arise in the presence of testicular cancer. The main ones are the following:
- Package:It detects the appearance of a lump in the testicle, which usually does not hurt or bother, and if it hurts it usually appears rather progressive.
- Increase in size and weight:An increase in the normal size of the testicle is also observed, as well as having the sensation that the affected testicle weighs more.
- Back pain or in the abdomen.
Since it is a cancer that can be easily diagnosed, it is rare and in most cases it usually has a good prognosis (especially since it tends to be diagnosed in the early stages), routine tests or explorations are not advised. the possibility of detecting it early. Yes, It is advised that men between 15 to 35 years know their most common symptoms. This article is published for informational purposes only. It can not and should not replace the consultation with a Physician. We advise you to consult your Trusted Doctor.