Testicular Self Examination
Testicles are paired organs that are responsible for producing sperms as well as key male hormone, testosterone that maintains and regulates primary and secondary sexual development. Your testicles are located in a sac like tissue (scrotum) that distance the testicles from direct contact with the body wall. This property of scrotum is also helpful in maintaining a lower temperature within the testicles to maintain adequate spermatogenesis and other testicular functions.
How Is It Performed?
Ideally, the test should be performed during or after the shower. This is mainly because warm water will make the scrotal skin soft and relaxed; thereby making palpation and inspection much easier in the standing position. Follow these steps to perform testicular self examination:
- Palpate your scrotal sac gently with the palm of your hands and fingers to locate the testicle.
- Use your left hand to stabilize the testicle, while using right hand to gently feel the edges and surface of your testicle.
- Now repeat the same process with the other testicle.
Always remember that first couple of testicular examination may seem tricky or confusing, primarily because testicles are surrounded with blood vessels and tubules, but if you perform testicular exams on frequent intervals, it will become easier to identify a new growth, a lump or any other abnormality.
Who Should Perform Testicular Self Examination?
It is ideally recommended that every adult male should perform testicular self examination at least once in 6 months but if you have following risk factors, you should perform self examination more frequently and carefully:
- If you have a prior history of testicular lump, tumor or swelling
- Positive family history of testicular or prostate malignancy
- Prior history of inguinal hernia
- History of undescended testis
It is very important to know how a normal testicle and scrotal sac feels like in order to detect a pathology. Ideally, normal testicles possess following characteristics:
- Smooth surfaces and edges
- Firm consistency
- Both testicles are normally similar in size and form, but it is quite possible that one testicle may appear slightly smaller or larger than the other.
You should speak to a healthcare professional if you find following findings on your examination:
- Abnormally large or disproportionally small testicles (make sure to compare the size and consistency of both the testicles).
- Feeling of a lump or nodularity one or both testicles.
- Absence of one or both testicles in the scrotal sac (this is seen in undescended testes)
- Moderate to severe pain in the testicles or groin region during or after the examination.
- Feeling of swelling or pain during palpation, worms like consistency of scrotum or collection of fluid around the testicles are some other negative signs that are suggestive of a disease process.
Benefits Of Testicular Self Examination
Are you aware that testicular malignancy claims approximately 380 lives each year in the United States? The low mortality is mainly due to excellent prognosis and availability of highly innovative treatment options.
According to latest statistics reported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8,720 new cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed in the year 2016 (4). Besides high mortality, advanced testicular malignancy is also associated with significant morbidity; such as; erectile dysfunction, infertility, poor image of self, mental health issues etc.
Besides malignancy, period testicular self examination is also helpful in the detection of following testicular issues:
- Undescended testes
- Testicular torsion
- Testicular cancer
There are no risks or adverse effects associated with testicular self examination; hence there is no harm in performing testicular self examination at periodic intervals.
1. American Cancer Society. Testicular self-exam. Last revised January 20, 2015. Available at: www.cancer.org/cancer/testicularcancer/moreinformation/doihavetesticularcancer/do-i-have-testicular-cancer-self-exam. Accessed October 2, 2015.
2. Aberger, M., Wilson, B., Holzbeierlein, J. M., Griebling, T. L., & Nangia, A. K. (2014). Testicular self‐examination and testicular cancer: a cost‐utility analysis. Cancer medicine, 3(6), 1629-1634.
3. Cooper, T. V., Blow, J., & Hu, D. (2014). Pilot study evaluating testicular self-examination and its correlates in Hispanic college men. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 15(1), 105.
4. Siegel, R. L., Miller, K. D., & Jemal, A. (2016). Cancer statistics, 2016. CA: a cancer journal for clinicians, 66(1), 7-30.