Testicle examination is an inspection of the appearance and sensation of your testicles. It is very easy to self-examine your testicles; it can be done typically standing in front of a mirror and only takes a minute.
Why should you self-examine your testicles?
Regular self-exams help you learn how your testicles normally look and feel, which makes it more likely that you’ll notice any changes.
The most important reason to self-examine your testicles is early detection of lumps – which could be cancer – but other benign (non-threatening) findings like a varicocele (1) or hydrocele (2) could also be found. The latter conditions are not dangerous but they can affect semen quality. Varicocele alone is estimated to account for more than 10% of male infertility.
We therefore highly recommend that you examine your testicles every month and make sure to seek medical attention if you feel anything unusual.
How to self-examine your testicles?
The genital area is very sensitive so the examination has to be done gently and slowly. It helps to have the testicles “hanging loose”, which can be achieved by performing this during a hot shower.
The testicles have to be examined one at a time and this is how you should do it:
1. Examine the testicle gently:
Do this by rolling the testicle between the thumb and forefinger. You should look for 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 / elastic?)
2. Look for lumps:
When you palpate (examine with your hands) the testicle, the sack it lays in, and the epididymis (tube), search for any extra tissue-like lumps or soft fillings. Remember that lumps or bumps may be painless.
3. Find and evaluate the epididymis:
This is the soft tube-like structure behind the testicle that collects and carries sperm. If you are familiar with this structure, you won’t mistake it for an abnormal mass. This tube should feel similar on each side. If it is thick or painful to touch you may need a second opinion. A varicocele, for example, is a small hard bump on the veins carrying blood to the testicles.
What to do if you find something?
If you notice something unusual or suspicious that concerns you, make an appointment with your doctor. Depending on the circumstances, your doctor might do a testicular exam followed by a blood test or an ultrasound, if necessary.
Be aware and contact your doctor in case of the following signs and symptoms:
- Painless lump
- Change in testicle size
- Pain or discomfort in the scrotum, testicles or epididymis
- Sense of pressure or pain in the lower abdomen or groin
- Significant unintended weight loss
- Severe tiredness
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the groins
- Back and/or abdominal pain
(1: Varicocele is an enlargement of the veins within the loose bag of skin that holds the testicles. 2: Hydrocele is a type of swelling in the scrotum that occurs when fluid collects in the thin sheath surrounding a testicle.)