For two reasons, you should be regularly doing testicular self-examinations.
The most common malignant cancer for adolescent boys is testicular cancer. In fact, testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer for men less than 40 years of age. One out of every 250 boys and men will develop testicular cancer; and one out of every 5000 of those diagnosed with testicular cancer will die from it.
When detected early, testicular cancer has a variety of treatments which yield survival rates greater than 90%.
Thus, physicians recommend men regularly doing testicular self-examinations.
Before doing your self-examination, keep in mind two things about testicles:
The first thing is about the size of the testicles. One testicle is normally larger than the other and hangs lower within the scrotum (see Figure 1).
The second thing is about what the testicles feel like. The outer side of a normal testicle has a small, coiled tube, called the epididymis. When the epididymis is touched through the scrotum it feels like a small bump (see Figure 2).
A testicular self-examination is simple. Use your fingers to examine one testicle at a time. With gentle but firm pressure, feel for any hard lumps, smooth rounded bumps, or any changes in the size, shape, or consistency of the testicle (see Figure 3).
The two reasons why you should be regularly doing testicular self-examinations are obvious and not-so obvious.
The obvious reason is it may save you from a deadly cancer. And the not-so obvious, but just as important reason, is it may save you from the most embarrassing thing that can ever happen to you: If you are ever caught masturbating, you can quickly say, “I’m not masturbating, I’m making sure I don’t have testicular cancer!”
Dr. Don Lucas, Ph.D. is a Professor of Psychology and head of the Psychology Department at Northwest Vista College in San Antonio Texas. He loves psychology, teaching, and research.
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