It is important for men to complete routine self-examinations of their genitals, so that they can detect any abnormalities that can lead to complications like testicular cancer.
Testicular self-examination (TSE)
TSE may detect testicular cancer at an early stage. Many testicular cancers are first discovered by self-examination as a painless lump or an enlarged testicle. TSE is 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 from normal. Good time to do self-examination is after a bath with warm water.
- 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.
- Roll the testicle gently but firmly between your thumb and fingers of both hands, carefully exploring the surface for lumps.
- The skin over the testicle moves freely, making it easy to feel the entire surface of the testicle. Repeat the procedure for the other side, lifting your left leg and examining your left testicle.
- Feel the entire surface of both testicles.
- Explore each of your testes one at a time, and pay attention to any differences.
- It is normal that one testicle is slightly larger than the other, however it is NOT normal for one testicle to suddenly become enlarged or swollen.
- Place your fingers on either side of the testicle, and-with a small amount of pressure-roll the testicle between your fingertips.
What are Abnormalities?
If the following are abnormal outcomes during self-examination and it is better the consult a doctor immediately:
- A small, hard lump (often about the size of a pea) is felt on the surface of the testicle, or the testicle is swollen or enlarged. If such lump or swelling is noticed, contact your doctor immediately. Do not delay or wait for the lump to go away, because it may be an early sign of testicular cancer. Immediate treatment provides the best chance for a cure.
- If you cannot feel one or both testicles. This may mean an un-descended testicle.
- A soft collection of thin tubes is felt above or behind the testicle. This may mean a varicocele. This can cause erectile dysfunction.
- Sudden (acute) pain or swelling in the scrotum that is noticed may mean an infection (epididymitis) or blockage of blood flow to the testicle (testicular torsion).
A point of caution
During your genital self-exam, also take a close look at your penis (including the tissue underneath the foreskin). If you notice anything abnormal, such as a sore or growth, it is important that you see your doctor. Such abnormalities could be the symptoms of an infection, a sexually transmitted disease, or in very rare cases, penile cancer.
Remember, early detection and treatment improve the prognosis for almost all health problems-so check your genitals for abnormalities on a regular basis.