How To Do A Testicular Self-Examination
OK. You’re a guy. Do you like to wager on things? “I bet you I can reach the end of the block before you do!” Does that sound like you? Well, here’s a pretty good bet: “I bet you that if you get cancer, it will show up in your testes. Gonads. Testicles.”
The only way to ‘win’ that bet is for you to NOT get cancer, anywhere. But people do get cancer. We do not know why we get cancer. They don’t have a pill or a shot to keep cancer out of our body. Cancer is actually our own body cells turning against us and turning into cancer.
Sometimes we can try to keep our body strong and healthy and eat properly and keep drugs and alcohol away from our body… that does help. But sometimes we get the cancer anyway. So, what is the next best thing? Find it before it gets bigger and causes more damage. Or kills us. Cancer can do that.
If you are a young man, the cancer you most likely will get is testicular cancer 1. Cancer of your testes (Tess - tees). The good thing about that… yes, there actually is a good thing… when the cancer is very small and just getting started, WE CAN FIND IT OURSELVES. No doctors. No tests. US… with our hands. We can do what is referred to as a Testicular Self-Examination (TSE), and it is very easy. I’ll show you how.
First, when you do this TSE, you want to do it when your scrotum is very loose and stretched out. When you are in bed in the morning, notice you are all warm and cuddly and your scrotum seems thin and loose. Do your TSE while you are still in bed. Or do it when you are in the bath or the shower, or just after you step out of the tub. Anytime your scrotum is warm is a good time to do TSE. You can be lying down in bed or the tub, or standing in the shower or in the bathroom.
STEP ONE: Using your right hand, lift your penis up and over to the right. Use your left hand to come up under your scrotum, lifting your scrotum slightly. Feel the weight of your testes. Can you tell which one is heavier? Are they heavier than they were last month when you did this?
Is one testis (tess - tee) larger than the other? Has that changed since you last examined them? One testis is usually larger and one hangs slightly lower than the other. That is OK. You just want to pay attention to whether they CHANGE. Ask your parents if you had an ‘undescended testicle’ when you were born. If you did, be extra sure about doing your TSE because you may be more likely to get testicular cancer.
STEP TWO: Using your right hand hook your right thumb over your penis, lift your right testis with your right fingers, and pull them both over to the right slightly. Using your left hand, reach for your left testis and hold it between your middle finger and your thumb. Don’t squeeze hard… it will hurt. Squeeze just enough to notice how you can slide the skin of your scrotum over the surface of your testis. The surface of your testis is as smooth as a jumbo-sized olive. Slide the skin over, under, around… feel the whole surface of your testis. You are feeling for anything that sticks up like a bump on the surface of your testis. Even something as small as a grain of rice is worth paying attention to. Be aware that you have something attached to the back side of your testis. It is called your Epididymis (Ep – ee – did – ee – miss). You have one on each testis. That is where you make sperm. It is even more tender and sensitive than your testis. Locate it and work around it, but don’t squeeze it hard. It really hurts.
Again, you just want to know if anything is different. If you feel any bumps or soft spots on the surface of either testis, you need to do something about it.
STEP THREE: Now do just the opposite… using your left hand hook your left thumb over your penis, lift your left testis with your left fingers, and pull them both over to the left slightly. Using your right hand, reach for your right testis and hold it between your middle finger and your thumb. Now do everything again that you did in STEP TWO.
If you are a young man living with your parents, share with them that you are concerned about what may be a growth on a testicle and they can arrange for a doctor to check it out. You don’t want to put it off… it is best to find something like this as soon as you can and get it taken care of. It only gets worse every day if you leave it.
Choose a day of the month and make sure that you check yourself on that day every month. Choose the first day of the month. Make it the tenth. Whatever day that you will remember. That is what is important.
The most important thing is to become very familiar with your scrotum and your testes, so that each month that you check them, you will be aware if something has changed, and you will know to get it taken care of.