Regular Testicular Self-Exams Could Save Your Life
Testicular cancer, the most prevalent form of cancer in American males between ages 15 and 35, is more likely to be successfully treated or prevented by detecting the disease, or signs of it, as early as possible.
While regular preventive health checkups certainly play a role in maintaining your well-being, conducting proactive self-exams could save your life. If you’re on the lookout for abnormalities and find one on your own, you can get medical help sooner than if you were just to wait for a doctor’s regular examination.
How to conduct a self-exam
Experts recommend that men perform self-examinations of their testicles each month to determine if there are any abnormalities present that might mean they need to talk to a doctor.
To conduct a self-exam, you’ll need to find a private space with good lighting. Most men carry out a self-exam in the shower. Next, gently raise the penis and examine the testes for any abnormalities on the skin of the scrotum. Then, gently massage the tissue of each testicle between your finger and thumb, one at a time.
You should let your doctor know right away if you notice the following:
- Any hard lumps
- Smooth or rounded bumps
- Change in size, shape or texture of one or both testicles
Though the presence of a lump in the testicle could be painless and ultimately harmless, it is essential to let your doctor know if you discover anything out of the ordinary. It could be nothing, but it could also be an early sign of cancer.
It’s important to note that you should not feel any pain during a self-examination. In fact, dull or sharp feelings of pain accompanied by a swollen or heavy feeling in the testicles could be due to inflammation caused by a cancerous growth.
However, this pain could also be caused by one of two separate conditions: hydroceles and varicoceles. Unlike cancer, neither of these conditions is life-threatening, but they can lead to infertility or infection if left untreated.
A hydrocele is a swelling that causes pain in the scrotum, usually as a result of injury or infection of one or both of the testes, according to the Cleveland Clinic. A varicocele reveals itself as a similar swelling, but in the veins in the scrotum.
If you think you might be experiencing either of these conditions, you should talk to your doctor.
The benefit of preventive health practices
It can be scary to think about developing cancer or any other adverse health condition. But the good news is that self-exams can give you more control of your health and a much better chance at avoiding disease.
Finding cancer early almost always increases the chances that it can be treated successfully. Self-exams are no replacement for regular preventive healthcare checkups with your doctor, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t extremely important.
Next time you’re in the shower, take a couple of minutes to do a self-examination of your testicles. It could save your life.