How well do you know your testicles? Would you notice any changes in how they look or feel?
Getting to know your testicles – their usual shape, size and weight – makes it easier to spot any unusual changes.
Diseases like cancer are often treated more successfully when they’re found early, so once you hit puberty, you should be giving your testicles a regular once-over – although these self-exams shouldn’t replace routine check-ups with your doctor.
How often should you check your testicles?
Once a month – more often might cause you to miss a slowly changing lump.
A step-by-step guide to checking your testicles
Try checking your testicles during or after a warm shower or bath – the warm water makes the scrotum (the skin around the testicles) relax and the testicles drop down a bit.
- Examine a testicle at a time.
- Gently grip the top of the scrotum, with your thumb on top and your fingers underneath. Pinch gently to keep the testicle in place.
- Between your fingers, you should feel the spermatic cord – this connects the testicle to the rest of the body.
- With your other hand, use your thumb and fingers to feel both sides of the testicle, from top to bottom. Feel for lumps or bumps. Testicles should feel firm and smooth, a bit like a hard-boiled egg (without the shell).
- Then, move your fingers over the front and back of the testicle.
- On the back at the top, you’ll feel the epididymis – the tube that carries sperm. This ‘lump’ is normal and may feel tender.
What to look out for when checking your testicles
It’s normal for one testicle to be bigger than the other, or for one to hang lower down than the other.
See your doctor if you notice any swelling, lumps, pain, aching, hardening or changes in the size or colour of your testicles. Lumps can be as small as a piece of rice or a pea – most are not serious, but you shouldn’t ignore them.
Changes to how your testicles look or feel could be symptoms of:
- an infection or cyst
- inflammation of the epididymis
- a build-up of fluid
- swelling of veins in the testicles
- damage to testicles
- torsion (a twisted testicle) – most common in teenage boys
How common is testicular cancer?
Testicular cancer is most common in people aged 20 to 30 – in particular, between the ages of 30 and 34. It’s quite rare, but checking your testicles and detecting cancer early can make a big difference to the success of treatment. Many cancers are curable if caught and treated early.
- check your testicles once a month for any changes in how they look or feel
- testicular cancer happens most often between the ages of 30 and 34
- detecting testicular cancer early can improve your chances of successful treatment
- speak to your doctor if you notice any lumps, bumps, pain, swelling, hardening or changes in the colour or size of your testicles
- testicle self-exams shouldn’t replace regular doctor check-ups