Checking your testicles for lumps and bumps should be done regularly, just as you should do for breasts (yes, men should also check their breasts too, not just women)
The size, shape and feel of your testicles can indicate many types of illness and disease. Sometimes the testes have not developed properly due to genetic (chromosomal) diseases, hormonal imbalances that have developed over, local infections or even indications of cancer.
Here are some signs that something might be wrong, by checking your testicles yourself regularly you can get on top of any changes or abnormalities quickly:
- If you notice significant shrinking or enlargement of one or both testicles
- If you develop a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- Dull aches in the groin or lower abdomen area
- If you notice fluid collecting in the scrotal area
- Testicular or scrotal pain
- Breast tenderness or breast enlargement
It’s normal for one testicle to be bigger than the other or for one to hang lower than the other so do not panic – no one is symmetrical!
Changes to the testicles are indications that something is wrong.
Genetic diseases like Klinefelters mean that your sperm production and effectiveness is reduced. The disease is chromosomal and it affects the balls growth and sperm production. If you have Klinefelters you may be needlessly living with under-developed testicles or a small penis. Klinefelters has no cure but there are testosterone treatments available to help reduce symptoms so you can lead a normal and reproductive life. Klinefelters is something that you are born with but it’s thought that 80% of Klinefelters sufferers are un-diagnosed. Many of the 20% are only diagnosed in adulthood. That means a massive 80% of men with Klinefelters don’t know they have it and are not taking testosterone therapy for their condition.
Changes to the testicles can also be down to the development of testicular cancer. It can happen at any time in a man’s life. By checking your balls regularly you increase chances of early detection. Early detection of testicular cancer means a good chance of full recovery; there are numerous treatment options depending on the severity of the case.
Changes to the testicles may mean that you simply have an infection. In this case a course of antibiotics can clear it up fairly easily.
There’s always been a bit of a taboo around the subject of testicle checking. Maybe it’s just not a macho thing to do. Don’t let ego get in your way, it’s never too early to start checking. It’s better to know and understand what’s going on than ignore it and hope it goes away. It won’t.
Here’s how to self-check your testicles for lumps in 5 easy steps.
1 Timing – check your testicles after a warm shower or bath so the scrotum is relaxed and the testicles have dropped. This allows for easier inspection.
2. One at a time – Use both hands to roll the first testicle gently between your fingers. Apply a bit of pressure when you do this. Your thumbs should be placed on the top side of your testicle and the index/middle fingers behind it.
3. Normal? – your testicle should feel firm and smooth, a bit like a hard boiled egg. Look out for any lumps or nodules along the front and side of the testicle. If you feel a soft but bumpy tube at the top back of the testicle then don’t panic – this is tube that carries the sperm. It’s called the “œepididymis” and it’s normal.
4. What do lumps feel like? – It can be anything from the size of a grain of rice to a big bean. Sometimes these lumps are painful to touch and sometimes they are not.
5. Repeat – go through the same procedure with the other testicle.
Sometimes these lumps have been there for a long time and have gone un-noticed. They might be nothing to worry about at all. If you feel that any of the above symptoms relate to you or if you find a lump during your self-examination then go and get it checked out by the doctor right away.
Visiting the doctor – do you know what an Orchidometer is?
If you are concerned about testicular issues, in particular Klinefelters, hypogonadism or testicular cancer then you’re doctor will need to measure the size of your balls/testicles when you go for your consultation. This is probably the first thing they will do before checking your balls for signs of lumps of inflammations.
Genetic and environmental testicular diseases affect the size of your testicles. For example, Klinefelters sufferers often have smaller testicles as the genetic disorder stops the testicles from developing properly. One or both testicles may be affected. If one testicle is affected by reduced development then it is easier to spot that there is an issue – you can see the difference in size between the two testicles. If both testicles are affected than it can be harder to see that they have not developed normally.
Doctors measure the ball size by using ball beads called an Orchidometer. This gives the doctor average ball bag sizes to compare with. The doctor will examine each testicle and equate it to one of the ball bead sizes on the Orchidometer. The doctor will perform his own testicular examination to feel for lumps and abnormalities. After this he will ask you many questions about your sex life and physiological symptoms. Finally the doctor will order a full set of blood tests, including hormonal analysis blood tests. If the doctor feels like you may have a genetic disorder then he may refer you to a geneticist for chromosomal blood testing. Testosterone therapy might be needed to improve the function of the testes.
The most important thing to remember is to be open and honest with your doctor. If you are not then you hinder their effects to successfully diagnose you correctly and quickly.