Checking your testicles
It is a good idea to examine your testicles (testes) regularly, so that you become familiar with your own anatomy. Then you will be able to tell if anything unusual develops.
What is normal?
- The testicles are oval in shape, and are usually about 4–5 cm long, 3 cm wide and 2 cm thick.
- One testicle is often slightly larger than the other. This is usually normal and nothing to worry about. However, if you notice that one testicle has enlarged you should ask your doctor to check it.
- The left testicle usually hangs lower than the right one.
- The epididymis is a sausage-shaped lump stuck onto the back and top of each testicle. It is actually a coil of tiny tubes, which carry and store the sperm. If uncoiled, they would be about 6 metres long.
- The spermatic cords lead upwards from behind the epididymis. They carry the sperm towards the penis, and also contain blood vessels.
- The scrotum is the skin sac that contains the testicles and the epididymis.
How to examine your testicles
- The best time is after a warm bath or shower, when the skin of the scrotum is relaxed.
- Support the scrotum and testicles in the palm of your hand to feel their weight. One testicle may be slightly larger than the other, but they should be about the same weight.
- Hold a testicle between the thumb and fingers, with your thumb on top and first and second fingers underneath. Roll the testicle gently, feeling for any hard lumps. A normal testicle is oval in shape; it feels firm but not hard and is smooth with no lumps.
- Feel the epididymis, a sausage-shaped lump at the top and back of each testicle. It will feel soft and perhaps slightly tender.
- Feel the spermatic cords which lead upwards from the epididymis and behind the testicles. They are firm, smooth tubes.
Do the same with the other testicle.
It is important that all lumps or swellings within your scrotum, or on or alongside your testicle, are examined by a doctor, so if you find something get it checked.
Written by: Dr Margaret Stearn
Edited by: Dr Margaret Stearn
Last updated: Tuesday, April 2nd 2013
For more information, Dr Phil Hammond discusses 'plums', 'peas' and varicocele in his Expert guide to scrotal lumps video below.
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