Most teens don't want to talk about masturbation. But, even though it might feel embarrassing to talk about it, many teens do it.
In fact, more than half of 14-year-old boys say they've masturbated. That means at least one out of every two of your guy friends has done it -- even if they won't admit to it. (About half of the girls in your class are doing it, too.)
Here are some honest answers to questions you might have been too embarrassed to ask about masturbation.
But there is something you can do to protect yourself. It's called a testicle self-exam.
If you do one every month, your chances of finding cancer early are very good. When that happens, the cancer is a lot easier to treat. That means your chances of surviving are very good. And so are your chances of having few or no serious problems from it.
What Is Testicular Cancer?
Your testicles, what you more likely call your balls, are part of the male reproductive system. They are the two balls that hang in the sac, known as the scrotum, under your penis.
The testicles are the part of your body that produces sperm. They also produce a male hormone called testosterone that gives your body many of its male characteristics -- like a deep voice or hair on the face.
With testicular cancer, abnormal cells in the testicles divide uncontrollably. If the cancer isn't treated, they can break off and spread to other parts of your body and continue to form tumors that affect other organs.
Testicular cancer is not particularly common. There about 8,300 new cases a year. And about 350 men die each year from this cancer. But while some men are more likely to get it than others, it's possible for any boy past puberty or any young man to get the disease.
Why You Should Consider Giving Yourself a Self-Exam Each Month
Unless you have certain risk factors, such as a brother or father who has or had testicular cancer, the American Cancer Society (ACS) says there aren't enough studies to make monthly exams a recommendation.
But because the cancer is so easy to treat when found early, even the ACS says many doctors recommend the exam. And besides finding cancer early, the exam can help you find other problems that may need to be treated.
Doing the Monthly Exam
Doctors recommend that boys start doing monthly exams around age 14. The idea at that age is not to find something wrong. Instead it's to get to know your body so that later you will notice changes and possible warning signs if they occur.
The best time to do an exam is right after a shower or bath. That's when the skin of the scrotum will be most relaxed and the exam will be easier to do.
You should do the exam standing in front of a mirror. If you are nervous about touching yourself, don't be. This is how you get to know what your testicles and scrotum should feel like.
Start by standing in front of the mirror and check for any swelling in the scrotum. Cup the scrotum in one hand to see if it feels normal.
Hold your penis out of the way and examine one testicle at a time.
Roll the testicle gently between the fingers and thumb. You should not feel any pain.
The testicle may be about the size of a golf ball, and it should feel smooth.
Feel for any bumps or changes in size or consistency from the last time.
After testing one testicle, do the other the same way. One testicle may be slightly bigger or smaller; this is normal.
Lumps should be checked by a doctor.
You may notice bumps on your scrotum. These are normal and are often caused by an ingrown hair or by a rash. They are usually not a cause for concern.