How to Check Your Balls
April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. This means that we, along with the Testicular Cancer Society (TCS), want to raise awareness for the most common cancer that strikes men ages 15-35 (though it can occur at any age). Though it may sound scary, there’s a lot that you can do to be proactive and protective of your health. Today, in particular, we’re going to discuss the in’s and outs of testicular cancer and how you can protect yourself and help educate those around you.
Testicular cancer is an unpleasant topic. We get it. Luckily, there are steps you can take right now to check yourself and safeguard your health. You need to be checked for signs monthly. This may seem overwhelming, but rest assured, it’s quite doable! Now let’s stick it to testicular cancer.
The first thing you need to learn is that testicular cancer is extremely treatable. Of course, that requires that it be found to be treated in the first place. This brings us back to the self-examination. The risk also drops to pretty much nil after the age of 40. That means you only need to be checking yourself if you’re between the ages of 17 and 40. If you’re outside that range, it still doesn’t hurt to learn. You can teach someone else like a son or a brother. The main point is, though, that you want to get into this habit as soon as possible. Otherwise, you might not notice when something changes. You might like to think you know your balls like the back of your hand, but if you aren’t inspecting them, can you really compare the differences in shape and size between the two? Didn’t think so.
Now that you’re sufficiently informed of the risk of testicular cancer to a particular age group, let’s give you the play by play in how you actually examine yourself. It might be an awkward conversation, but the practice is pretty painless and easy.
Step 1 - Take a Warm Shower
This isn’t essential, but it makes the ball-check process easier since you don’t want your balls to be particularly cold and shriveled. More importantly, you don’t want cold hands when you do this. A warm shower will relax the skin and make the scrotum a little less resistant to your inspection. It’s a small thing, but you can try it with and without the shower. Then you can comment below and let us know your opinion.
Step 2 - Touch Yourself
If you need mood music to do this, go right ahead. As for the technique, we’d gather that you can intuit pretty easily. Get your penis out of the way and examine the testicles one at a time. You’re going to gently roll the ball between your thumb and fingers. You want to note the size and shape. In particular, you’re looking for lumps (much like a breast exam). The things we’re hoping not to find will be roughly the size of a pea. Obviously, lumps come in all shapes and sizes, but there’s only so much room on your balls for a growth. If you don’t find anything, great! You’re done! If you do, keep reading.
Step 3 - Calm Down
Maybe you found a lump. First, calm down. A lump is not the death sentence you may think it is. Most likely, it’s not cancerous, but here’s what you need to know about other reasons for lumps on your testicles. Let’s talk about common mistakes.
First up is the semen pump (that’s not the medical term). This is a cord-like tissue on the back of each testicle. You wouldn’t be the first man to mistake it for a lump. It’s not. If you can’t distinguish what you felt from the pump, that’s probably all it is.
The second thing is to remember that even your own balls will vary in size and shape. It’s ok that they aren’t identical twins. In fact, one hangs a little lower than the other. This is normal. What you’re really looking for is changes in size and shape. The best way to do that is to document your exams and compare to last time’s notes. You’re not doing this every day; it’s easy to misremember which side was lumpier and which was a little bigger.
Step 4 - See a Doctor
If you’re still confused about what you may or may not have found, then get thee to a doctor. You aren’t an expert, and it’s normal for people to overreact and think they found a problem when they didn’t. The main purpose of self-examination is to make sure obvious stuff doesn’t go unnoticed for years on end. That could lead to serious problems.
When you get to the doctor, they’ll probably want to do a thorough examination. If he or she isn’t satisfied with the results of that, then they may schedule an ultrasound. This will more definitively help them look for any real trouble. Now listen up. Even if they give you the worst possible news, you’re still probably going to be fine. Testicular cancer is among the most treatable forms of cancer known to man. Keep reading (and breathing).
Need visual instruction? Check out our instructional video!
It’s your balls. Your cajones. Your family jewels. Of course, you’re concerned. Getting a few common questions out of the way should quell any concerns.
How Dangerous Is Testicular Cancer?
Ok. It’s cancer. Let’s now downplay things here. That said, it’s extremely treatable, but only if you find it. Only about 1 in 250 guys ever actually come down with testicular cancer. Of those, 1 in 5,000 cases is fatal. In almost every fatal case, the problem was that the cancer was found too late for treatment. If you’re doing the exams, you’re avoiding that problem. If you are one of the unlucky few, try to remember that your worry and stress is often a bigger health risk than the cancer itself.
How Do I Prevent It?
Great question! The bad news is that there are no real prevention methods. Testicular cancer is pretty much a matter of genetic lottery. There’s no food or exercise regime that will protect you. But, like you keep reading, if you find it, the doctors can take care of it.
How Often Should I Examine Myself?
Don’t get paranoid and check your balls too often. A monthly exam is fine. Rarely do doctors check during your yearly checkup, so you need to do it yourself. You don’t want to do extremely frequent exams because it will make it harder to notice changes. The idea is to be surprised that things are a little different on this exam. That’s the warning sign to go to a doctor.
Good work, guys! You made it to the end. The self-exam is actually really easy. Chances are that you’re never going to find a problem, but don’t let that sap your motivation. We’re talking about probably 20 minutes or so of self-examination per year. If you are unlucky, finding it early won’t just give you a much better chance to survive. It will also improve your chances of saving the boys and your reproductive abilities. Since we care about your balls’ health as well as their appearance, we decided to partner up with the guys who want to make testicular cancer a thing of the past: the Testicular Cancer Society (TCS). This means not only designing the right tools for the job, but raising awareness for the ball-busting disease, which is the most common form of cancer among men ages 15-35.
As part of our mission, we aim to educate and entertain while spreading a very important message about early detection and self-screening to protect yourself against men’s health issues and cancer risk. For more information check out our TCS partnership website.