How to Check Your Balls – and Why

Once a man has reached puberty, he should regularly inspect his balls for their health and well-being. This means getting well acquainted with them, how they normally look and what, if anything, is noticeably different.

If you conduct regular examinations, you may catch a genuine problem like testicular cancer at an early stage – and when it comes to cancer, it’s never too early.

The American Cancer Society has determined that the first signs of testicular cancer consist of a lump or swelling in your balls. This condition is often painless, which is why too many men don’t act early enough.

So, you’ve never done a self-examination and don’t know how to do it? Not to worry! We put together a guide consisting of 4 steps!

Testicular Self-Exam – a 4-Step Guide

When you do your initial self-exams, you become familiar with how your balls look and feel. This is important because it will enable you to immediately detect changes. Any change in the condition of your testicles and ball sack could indicate that something is going on that shouldn’t be.

Now, the change does not necessarily mean you have testicular cancer, so don’t panic. You might just have a cyst or infection. Regardless, if you do detect a change, you should definitely get a medical examination.

That being said, let’s look at how you can conduct a testicular self-examination.

Step #1: Shave Your Testicles

We recommend that you shave your balls. Shaving them will prevent perspiration from gathering in your groin area. Perspiration can promote the growth of fungi and bacteria.

In addition, clean-shaven balls are much easier to inspect because your view won’t be obscured by hair.

Your ball-sack, testicles and groin in general are among the most sensitive areas of skin. You should therefore take at least as much – no, more! – care of your genitals as you do your face. That means that ordinary razors or scissors really won’t do! You’re sensitive enough when shaving your face, so imagine nicks and cuts to your balls!

We recommend using an electric shaver because it will let you remove hair down close to your skin without actually touching it.

Before going at your balls and groin with a shaver, it’s best to trim the hairs short. This will give you a much better view and more precision when shaving.

Step #2: Bathe or Shower in Warm Water

Inspecting your testicular will go much easier after your skin and hair are softer and moist. The heat also relaxes the scrotum and promotes blood flow. Once the muscles in your scrotum are relaxed, your balls will hang looser, which will give you a better overall view.

Step #3: Visually Inspect and Feel Your Testicles

You will conduct your self-exam with both hands, and you’ll learn to use your index finger, thumbs and middle fingers.

Here is how to proceed:

  1. Support your testicle with your index and middle finger beneath.
  2. Place your thumb on top to separate the testicle from your penis.
  3. Roll the ball gently between your thumb and fingers and feel for anything unusual like lumps or knots.
  4. Repeat for the other testicle.

Step #4: Look and Feel for Changes in Your Testicles

You want to check each testicle for shape, size and feel. If one ball is larger than the other or hangs lower, don’t worry – this is completely normal.

What you are looking and feeling for are CHANGES. That’s why you need to conduct self-exams early and get to know how your testicles are when healthy. You may, for example, notice a cordlike structure behind the testicles. This is a perfectly normal part of your testicles that conveys and stores sperm. When you’ve done a few careful exams, you’ll learn what is normal – and what isn’t.

If you detect anything like hard lumps or knots, note the size and location. If you do notice any unusual changes, you should see a physician.

What You Need to Check during Your Self-Exam

When you’re doing your self-exam, you should be especially aware of certain abnormalities.

Testicular Lumps

You may discover a testicular lump in your balls. These are pretty common and form for many reasons. Lumps can form in one or both testicles. Most lumps have benign causes and don’t require medical attention. So, if you find one, don’t panic.

Lumps may also be the result of injury – you know the kind! – but they may also form in response to a medical condition not directly related to your testicles.

Most lumps will be accompanied by other changes, especially swelling.

An injury to your scrotum could be very painful and pose a medical emergency. Among the symptoms are:

  • A testicle comes to rest in an unusual position
  • The scrotum swells
  • Nausea and/ or Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • A frequent urge to urinate
  • Fever

Testicular lumps may also be accompanied by other symptoms. Such symptoms differ according to the type of lump and what has caused it.

For the same reason, treatments are available for each type of lump.

Type of lump

Cause

Symptoms

Treatment

Varicocele

Veins in the testicles enlarge

The lump feels like a sack of worms

May subside on its own

Hydrocele

Fluids build up in the testicles

Testicles are noticeably swollen

Surgery!

Epididymal cyst

Fluids build up in the Epididymis

One testicle may feel heavier than the other

May subside on its own

Infection

Bacteria

One for both testicles experience pain, tenderness, or swelling

Antibiotics

 

In any case, it never hurts to consult a physician.

Symptoms of Testicular Cancer

A lump may form due to testicular cancer. This type of lump is accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the scrotum
  • Your scrotum suddenly collects fluid
  • Your scrotum may feel heavy
  • Dull abdominal ache

Should you detect one or more unusual lumps, you should definitely seek medical attention. Your physician should take blood to help in diagnosing testicular tumours and should schedule a testicular cancer screening. If not, ask for one.

If detected early, a testicular tumour can be treated very effectively.

Pain or Discomfort in Your Testicles or Scrotum

You know well that a blow to the balls can be quite painful and could cause serious injury. Pain or discomfort can also arise due to other causes, including:

  • Diabetic Neuropathy – damage to your scrotal nerves caused by diabetes
  • Varicocele – enlargement of testicular blood vessels
  • Gangrene – tissue death
  • Hydrocele – scrotal swelling
  • Kidney stones
  • Inguinal hernia
  • Orchitis – inflammation of the testicles

Other causes of testicular pain are testicular torsion or an STI (sexually transmitted infection). These and other possible conditions are excellent reasons why you should not ignore the symptoms we’ve described.

Treating Testicular Pain

You can treat pain that doesn’t require medical attention at home:

  • Wear an athletic supporter
  • Take pain relievers such as ibuprofen
  • Take warm baths at least once a day
  • Apply ice to reduce swelling

If the pain is serious, get a physician to conduct a thorough medical examination to ascertain the cause. To diagnose the cause of the pain, additional testing may be required, including:

  • Ultrasound exam of testicles and scrotal sac
  • Urine cultures
  • Urinalysis
  • Rectal exam

Once your pain has been diagnosed, your physician will prescribe treatment, which may include pain relievers, antibiotics or surgery.

Enlarged Testicles or Scrotum

Testicles or scrotum may become enlarged in response to another underlying cause. These causes include a build-up of fluid, inflammation, or an abnormal growth in the scrotum. Such conditions may cause pain, but not necessarily – so don’t wait for pain before you seek medical attention!

Scrotal swelling or enlargement can appear rapidly or manifest slowly. There are various causes for enlarged testicles, including:

  • Infection or inflammation of the scrotal skin
  • Epididymis
  • Hernia
  • Hydrocele
  • Orchitis
  • Enlarged scrotal cells
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Testicular cancer
  • Injury

Treating Enlarged Testicles

Of course, treatments vary depending on the cause of the enlargement. Infection can be treated by antibiotics. Other causes may require surgery.

If you notice any unusual swelling or lumps, the National Cancer Institute advises testicular cancer screening. There are also measures that you can take at home. These include:

  • Avoiding physical exertion
  • Bathing to reduce swelling
  • Wearing an athletic supporter
  • Pain relievers
  • Applying ice to the scrotum

Conduct Regular Self-Exams

We cannot stress the importance of regular testicular self-exams enough. Getting acquainted with your balls is extremely valuable in detecting a serious condition like testicular cancer early. We highly recommend that you get a testicular cancer screening if you discover a disturbing lump or enlargement.

Early detection is key to preventing a condition from becoming serious, ball-threatening, or even life-threatening.

The best time for a testicular self-exam is right after you’ve shaved your balls. Hair-free balls are not only more hygienic, but they also make it much easier for you to get to know your balls and detect anything that might require attention.