Testicular self-examination is a quick and easy way for men to catch issues quickly if/when they arise. Typically recommended for men over 18 years of age, self-examination takes just a few minutes and can be performed in the comfort of your own home. The process can help men identify lumps on the testes. Personally, I found a lump of my own, which turned out to be cancerous. Fortunately, it was small, and I received the treatment I needed at the earliest possible stage.
How to perform a self-exam
- Perform a self-examination once a month after a warm shower, when the scrotum is relaxed and changes can be more readily identified.
- Grasp the testicle with your thumb on top, and pointer and middle finger on the bottom and roll gently, yet firmly.
- Feel for swelling, hardness, lumps, or changes to the texture of the scrotum.
- Familiarize yourself with the epididymis, the tube at the back of your testicles that stores and carries sperm to the vas deferens. This tube can often be mistaken for a lump. Its equally important to become familiar with how it normally feels. If it is sore to touch, this could be a sign of a common infection called epididymitis.
Causes of testicular lumps
Testicular lumps are not always a cause for alarm. While they can indicate cancer, there are many other benign conditions that can present themselves as lumps. Varicoceles can cause swelling due to enlarged veins in the cord above the testicle, while hydroceles causes swelling as a result of fluid build-up around the testicle. Epididymal cysts may cause one testicle to feel heavier than the other, are generally painless and will usually feel like they are above or behind the testicle. Swelling caused by infection may often be painful and accompanied by fever or unusual testicular placement or redness and thickening of the skin.
If you’re experiencing pain, collection of fluid in your scrotum, an ache in your groin or abdomen, or swelling in your chest, it’s important to schedule a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible.
When to contact your doctor
If you found a lump, you might panic or be scared, but don’t minimize or think it ‘will go away’. Contact your doctor any time you detect a change in your testicles. Identifying the cause of a lump in its early stages is critical for treatment–whether it’s cancerous, or caused by other medical conditions. Your doctor will use a variety of methods and tests to determine the cause of any testicular abnormalities, and work with you to find the best treatment solution. Often a simple examination in the office is all that is needed to rule out serious causes. When indicated, an ultrasound is a very good test to evaluate the testicles.
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