MFS Fertility Blog

How to Perform a Testicular Self Exam

Posted on June 28, 2013 in Sexual Health

Men have approximately a 1 in 270 chance of developing testicular cancer in their lifetime. Although it affects men of any age, 50% of those diagnosed with testicular cancer are between the ages of 20 and 34. Testicular cancer is highly amenable to treatment and is often cured, particularly when detected early.

Testicular Cancer Symptoms
Testicular cancer usually affects only one testicle. The most common symptom of testicular cancer is the presence of a painless lump in a testicle, although a cancerous testicle may also be swollen or enlarged without a lump. Some men may also experience an uncomfortable, heavy or achy feeling in the lower abdomen or scrotum, and there might be a sudden accumulation of fluid in the scrotum.

Depending on the origin of the tumor cell, a man might experience enlarged or tender breasts or a loss of sexual desire. A boy with testicular cancer might begin producing facial or body hair at an unusually early age. Symptoms that might indicate the cancer has spread or metastasized include lower back pain, shortness of breath, coughing, chest pain, headaches, and confusion.

How to Perform a Testicular Self Exam
Certain risk factors - such as an undescended testicle, previously diagnosed testicular cancer, or a family history of the disease - increase your chance of developing testicular cancer. We recommend that all males perform a monthly self exam, however it is especially important for those at greater risk.

The testicular exam is best performed following a bath or shower, when the skin of the scrotum is relaxed. Examine your testicles one at a time by gently rolling each testicle between the thumb and fingers of both hands. Look and feel for any changes in shape, size, or consistency. Be especially vigilant for hard lumps or smooth rounded bumps. You might detect a small bump near the upper-middle outer side of each testicle; this is the epididymis and is completely normal. There are also many blood vessels, tissues, and tubes located in the scrotum that can feel inconsistent, and swellings or lumps can occur in the testicles that are not cancer. See your doctor if you are unsure of any abnormalities.

Monthly self exams will improve your chances of identifying a potentially cancerous change in a timely manner. It only takes a few minutes and can save your life!

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