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This 5-minute Testicular Self-Exam is Crucial for Men’s Health

Learn when and how to perform the exam, what to look for, and what steps to take if you find something unusual.  

Jun 14, 2024

4 min read

Written by Dr Lakshmi  Vaswani
Medically Reviewed by 

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As a man, performing a testicular self-exam is one of the simplest but most impactful steps you can take for your health. This easy, 5-minute, painless check can be done in the privacy of your home and is key to catching testicular disorders early on, including cancer when they're most treatable. You can quickly notice any unusual changes by understanding what is normal for you. Let's explore how you can effectively monitor your health with this straightforward routine and potentially nip some severe conditions in the bud.

What is a testicular self-exam?

A testicular self-exam is essentially a manual inspection of your testicles, which you do to check for any irregularities or changes. The goal here is straightforward: to familiarise yourself with your normal size, shape, and texture, making it easier to spot any abnormalities.

Even though testicular cancer is very rare in India, affecting less than 2 people per 100,000 in the entire country, regular self-exams can help you detect signs early on, which is crucial for effective treatment. Think of it as a monthly health check that keeps you in tune with your body and ahead of any potential health concerns.

When should a testicular self-exam be performed?

An infographic on how to prep for a testicular self exam

It's best to perform a testicular self-exam monthly. This ensures that you're familiar with the normal feel of your testicles, making it easier to detect any changes or abnormalities early. You can start checking your testes starting at age 15.

The ideal time to conduct this self-exam is after a warm shower or bath. Heat helps relax the scrotum, making it easier to examine and ensuring you can thoroughly feel the testicles without discomfort.

How to properly perform a testicular self-examination

An infographic about what to look for during a testicular self examination

It only takes a few minutes to perform a testicular self-examination.  Here’s how to examine your testes effectively:


  • Start with clean, warm hands to avoid any discomfort or infection.
  • Ensure you are in a private, comfortable space where you won't be disturbed.

Visual Inspection

  • Stand in front of a mirror and examine the scrotum. Look for any visible swelling, redness, or changes in the skin of the scrotum.

Physical Examination

  • Gently lift your penis out of the way and examine each testicle separately.
  • With your index and middle fingers placed underneath and your thumbs placed on top, gently roll each testicle between your fingers.
  • Feel the entire surface of each testicle, taking your time to identify any hard lumps or changes in the size, shape, or consistency.

What to Feel For

  • Be alert for any hard lumps, smooth, rounded bumps, or changes in the firmness of the testicles.
  • Note any differences in size or any unusual growths.

It’s normal for one of your testicles to be slightly bigger or hang a bit lower than the other. Remember, the key is to notice changes from your normal baseline.

What should I do if I find something abnormal during a self-exam?

An infographic on what to do if you find an abnormality during a testicular self exam

Finding something unusual during a testicular self-exam can be alarming, but the first step is not to panic. Changes in your testicles may be a potential marker of a common  benign condition, such as an infection or cyst, or a less common condition, such as testicular cancer.

  1. Consult a healthcare provider: As soon as you notice any type of changes or abnormalities, schedule an appointment with your doctor. A professional evaluation is important to determine the cause of the change you've detected.
  1. What to expect at the doctor’s office:
  • Physical Exam: A physical examination is similar to the testicular self-exam and will be performed by your doctor. 
  • Ultrasound: If further investigation is needed, an ultrasound may be used to obtain a clearer image of your testicles. This painless procedure uses sound waves to produce images of the inside of your body.
  • Blood tests may be used to check for tumour markers—substances produced by some cancer cells, such as alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), and Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH).

So, what happens if you are diagnosed with testicular cancer?

Dr Malav Modi, a urosurgeon based in Mumbai, says, "Based on the ultrasound and blood tests for tumour markers, if we suspect testicular cancer, we'll also perform scans of the chest and abdomen to get a clearer picture of the cancer stage. A procedure is done to remove the affected testicle. This is most common in men between 30 and 50 years old, so we'll discuss sperm banking or cryopreservation before surgery.”

Prompt action ensures that if treatment is needed, it can be started as soon as possible, improving the chances of a successful outcome.

Symptoms to watch out for

Here are some symptoms to be aware of:

  • A painless swelling or lump in either testicle.
  • Change in how the testicle feels or a heavy sensation in the scrotum.
  • A dull ache felt in the groin or lower abdomen.
  • It's normal to feel a soft, slightly tender tube towards the back of each testicle, which is the epididymis involved in transporting and storing sperm.
  • Persistent lumps, significant changes in the size or consistency of the testicles, or persistent pain or discomfort are concerning.

 Small habit, big impact

Maintaining regular testicular exams can be lifesaving. Early detection through self-exams significantly enhances the effectiveness of treatment for testicular cancer.

Let's normalise these discussions and check-ups. It's a simple habit that takes minutes but can have a lifetime of benefits. Stay informed, stay aware, and remember, your health is (quite literally) in your hands!

Frequent Asked Questions

What are the risk factors for testicular cancer?

Risk factors may include a family history of testicular cancer, a personal history of undescended testicles, and being in the age group of 15 to 40. A self-check for testicular abnormalities can help you stay on top of your health.

Are testicular self-exams painful?

Testicular self-exams should be pain-free. They're meant to be a form of self-care for testes and a gentle way to monitor your health, so if you’re experiencing pain, it’s important to consult a healthcare provider.

Can testicular cancer be prevented?

Testicular cancer prevention may not always be possible. Still, early detection through regular self-exams can lead to early treatment, which is typically less invasive and has a higher success rate.

How common is testicular cancer?

Testicular cancer is relatively uncommon, but it's the most diagnosed cancer in men ages 15 to 40. Regular self-exams are crucial because they increase the chances of detecting the cancer early.

Can testicular cancer affect fertility?

Testicular cancer and its treatment may affect fertility, but many options are available to preserve fertility before treatment. It's important to discuss with your doctor if you want to have children in the future.

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