Knowing our own bodies, being familiar with how they look and how they feel, is a key factor in maintaining good general and sexual health. It is important to be aware of any changes in our bodies that may signal the beginning of an unwelcome condition.
With many conditions that we regard as serious, any unpleasant effects can be minimised if the conditions are identified early. This also means that any treatments can be more effective, simpler to provide, and less disruptive at the first stages of a condition.
Cancer is a condition that affects both men and women, and has many different forms. Two of the most common forms of cancer are testicular cancer in men (cancer in the balls) and breast cancer in women. These are also two of the most easily identified cancers and early diagnosis makes treatment of the conditions easier.
This is where knowing our bodies, and checking them regularly really is important.
Male Self Examination
There is a simple check that you can do yourself and is best done regularly – once a month is good. Do this after a warm bath or shower when the skin of the scrotum (ball sack) is relaxed, this makes the examination easier
- Hold your balls in the palm of your hand, supporting their weight. Feel the size and weight of each ball – they should be roughly the same. A little difference is common, but any noticeable increase in size or weight could indicate something is wrong.
- Feel all around each ball in turn, looking for any unusual lumps or swelling – normally they have a smooth surface. Using both hands, gently roll the ball between your thumb and fingers.
- At the back and top of each ball is a soft tube. This is the epididymis and it’s supposed to be there; it’s the tube that carries sperm from your balls to your penis.
- Things to look out for are:
any change in size or weight lumps or swellings, particularly on the surface of the balls
a dull ache in the scrotum, groin or lower back.
If you do feel anything, see a doctor quickly. You can go to your GP or to a Integrated Sexual Health Clinic (formerly Genito-urinary GUM). It may well not be cancer; lumps and swellings can be caused by a number of things. For example: Hydrocele , Epididymitis ,Varicocele, Inguinal hernia. An ultrasound scan may be arranged.
It is, however, really important to get checked by a doctor if you feel there is anything you are concerned/worried about.