Not to be inappropriate and intrusive but…have you touched yourself lately?
Hold that thought.
Before you think that I’m overstepping some boundaries, hear me out first.
If you’re assuming that I am talking about something nasty, I’m not. And it’s not what I meant. This is more of touching your manly parts and checking if there’s something that’s not supposed to be there – like lumps or bumps.
Aren’t you a tad bit curious if your testicles are showing signs of a foreboding disease known to many as testicular cancer? Aren’t you concerned that if you denied yourself of this necessary precaution, you and your family will be affected devastatingly in the long run?
This is not a laughing matter and it’s not something to be ashamed about. Touching your balls constantly to familiarize yourself with how it’s normally like will make it easier for you to spot if there’s an anomaly through a thorough examination.
Medically speaking, you will be the first person to diagnose if you might be a potential candidate for cancer. Though the presence of lumps and bumps around your scrotum are not immediately signs of having cancer; some abnormalities are there for other medical reasons.
“The reason to start doing a testicular exam once a month is to learn what’s normal. Only when you know what’s normal will you be able to recognize changes in the early stages,” writes Paul Joannides, Psy.D.
Nonetheless, if you’ve noticed that there are some growth going on down there that are not supposed to be there and weren’t there before, it is advisable to have it checked by a urologist. Early prevention is definitely better than long-term cure. Preventive measures, like testicular self-examination, is one of the most effective ways to detect of testicular cancer.
Not to put so much anxiety on you but according to recent statistics, in 2017, there are more than 8,800 current cases of diagnosed testicular cancer and about 400 deaths in the United States alone. More so, the occurrence can happen in as early as 20 years old. Surely, those numbers should’ve made you a little concerned.
“The USPSTF recommends against screening for testicular cancer in adolescents or adult men. Of note, even if testicular cancer is caught late, treatment is oftentimes very effective,” writes Naveed Saleh, M.D., M.S.
Now, we get to that moment you’ve been waiting for – the testicular self-examination.
You have to keep in mind that this is not done just once in a lifetime. Once you’ve reached the age of 20, you have to perform this examination regularly, like weekly or even twice a month.
Also, it is advisable that this is performed when you shower. Doctors find that warm showers can cause your scrotum to relax and will make the self-exam easier because if there are the presence of abnormalities, it would be more palpable.
If you’ve never done testicular self-examination before, here’s how:
- Assuming you’re inside your shower and dousing yourself with warm water. The first thing that you’ll do is to hold your penis and direct it in a way that it reveals your scrotum.
- Separately examine your testicles. Take one testicle with both hands and with the use of your thumbs and fingers, roll it gently between your fingers, going down smoothly.
- As you thoroughly do this, spot any rounded masses or nodules, hard lumps, or odd changes in the consistency, shape, and size of your testicle.
- Repeat process on the other testicle.
Before you worry
Now that you’ve done the checking, you might have noticed that your scrotum is uneven; meaning, the other testicle is a bit larger compared to the other one and it hangs lower too. Don’t panic, this is normal. Blood vessels, tubes, and tissues are also part of a normal testicle.
“When you self-diagnose, you are essentially assuming that you know the subtleties that diagnosis constitutes. This can be very dangerous, as people who assume that they can surmise what is going on with themselves may miss the nuances of diagnosis,” writes Srini Pillay, M.D.
However, if you feel that there’s something unusual, it’s recommended to schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as you can. If your suspicions are seconded by the doctor, you will have to undergo a series of tests for verification.
Do not second guess and more importantly do not ignore this. Testicular cancer can be defeated with early diagnosis. So, have the courage to do it, take the first step and touch those balls!