Last week when we discussed breast self-examinations for the women, I could see a lot of men in my head scrolling past the topic, thinking, “Thank God I don’t have to bother with examining anything in my body.” Well, as you can see from the title of this post, today, Face2Face Africa is focusing the spotlight on a very important part of the male body that needs to be checked regularly: your testicles!
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The testicles (or testes) are found inside the scrotum, the skin that covers the testicles, and are two in number. They are the male reproductive organs that produce sperm and the male hormone testosterone. Each testicle is about the size and shape of a small egg. At the back of each testicle is the epididymis, a coiled tube that collects and stores sperm.
The testicles develop within the abdomen of a male baby while it is still a fetus and then descend in to the scrotum before or shortly after birth.
Examining Your Testicles
Checking your testicles by yourself is known as a Testicular Self-Examination (TSE). It is simply done to familiarize a man with the normal size, shape, and weight of his testicles and the area around the scrotum. This allows him to detect any changes that are abnormal.
For men 14 years and older, a monthly self-exam of the testicles is a very effective way of becoming familiar with this area of the body as this often aids in the detection of testicular diseases and cancer at an early stage while they are still curable.
Cancer of the testicles, you ask?
Yes, studies have shown that while testicular cancer is rare, it is the most-common cancer in men younger than 35 years. Many testicular cancers are often first discovered by men themselves or by their sex partners, usually as a lump or enlarged swollen testicle.
How To Perform a TSE
It’s best to do a TSE during or right after a hot shower or bath because the scrotum (the skin that covers the testicles) is most-relaxed then, making it easier to examine the testicles.
- Stand and place your right leg on an elevated surface about chair height. Then gently feel your scrotal sac until you locate the right testicle.
- Use both hands to gently roll the right testicle (with slight pressure) between your fingers. Place your thumbs over the top of your testicle, with the index and middle fingers of each hand behind the testicle, and then roll it between your fingers.
- You should be able to feel the epididymis. It feels soft, rope-like, and slightly tender to the pressure of your fingers. The epididymis is located at the top of the back part of each testicle and may feel “lumpy” to the touch, but this is normal. Cancerous lumps are usually found on the sides of the testicles, however, they can also show up on the front.
- When examining each testicle, feel for any lumps or bumps along the front or sides. Lumps may be as small as a piece of rice or a pea.
- Repeat this procedure for the left testicle, starting by raising your left leg too.
What to Do If You Discover Something Different
If you notice any swelling, lumps, or changes in the size or color of a testicle or if you have any pain or achy areas in your groin, let your doctor know right away. Lumps or swelling may not be cancer, but they should be checked by your doctor as soon as possible. Even if it is something else, such as an infection, you are still going to need to see a doctor.
Only a doctor can make a diagnosis.
Waiting and hoping or being embarrassed about exposing your genitals to the doctor will not fix anything.
If you think something feels wrong or strange, go and see your doctor – even if it’s only for your peace of mind. Any change in your testicles is worthy of a hospital visit!