Doing the Monthly Exam
Doctors recommend that boys start doing monthly exams around age 14. At this age, it's unlikely you will find anything to be concerned about. However, a self-exam will give you the chance to get to know your body so that you can detect changes more easily in the future.
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.
- After checking one testicle, check the other the same way. One testicle may be slightly larger or smaller; this is normal.
- Lumps should be checked by a doctor.
You may notice bumps on the skin of your scrotum. These are often caused by an ingrown hair or by a rash. They are usually not a cause for concern.
When You Should Call a Doctor
If you discover any lumps on your testicles when you do a self-exam, see a doctor right away. Also see a doctor if you notice any of the following changes:
- One testicle has gotten noticeably larger or smaller.
- You have a dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin.
- You have a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum.
- You feel pain or discomfort in the scrotum or a testicle.
- You notice an enlargement or tenderness in your breasts.
Any of these could be a warning sign of cancer or something else, such as an infection. Only your doctor can diagnose what the problem is and decide on the proper treatment.
But only you can do the monthly exam and notice changes that should be examined. Remember, the earlier a problem is found, whether it's cancer or something else, the more options there are for treating it, and the easier it will be to treat.