Once you hit puberty, check your testicles regularly – ideally every month. The best time to do it is while you’re in the shower or bath, or just afterwards. The warmth will relax your scrotum and make it easier to feel anything unusual.
- Hold your scrotum in the palms of both hands.
- Feel the size and weight of each testicle. You may notice that one testicle is larger or hangs lower than the other (this is normal).
- Get to know the feel of your testicles by rolling each one between your finger and thumb. They should feel smooth, without any lumps or swellings.
- Compare your testicles with each other – get to know any differences between them.
Towards the top, at the back of each testicle you will feel a soft, tender tube – this is the epididymis. This is there to store sperm so it’s good to remember where it is so you don’t mistake it for a lump.
When you examine your testicles, look for any:
- lump or hardening
- change in consistency – one may feel like it’s full of fluid, for example
- change in size, shape or weight
Other changes to look out for are:
- a feeling of heaviness in your scrotum
- any pain or discomfort in your testicle or scrotum
- a dull ache in your back, tummy (abdomen), scrotum or groin
- swollen, tender breasts
- blood in your semen
These symptoms may be caused by problems other than testicular cancer but if you have any of them, see your GP for advice.
FAQ: Can injuring my testicles cause testicular cancer? FAQ: Can injuring my testicles cause testicular cancer?
No, nothing has been found that suggests an injury to your testicles will cause cancer.
Nobody has proved that there is any link between injuring your testicles and getting testicular cancer. However, if you injure your testicles, it can cause swelling and inflammation that may hide lumps or other changes and make cancer difficult to detect. On the flip side, an injury to your testicles may bring a lump to your attention.
Doctors don’t know why you may develop testicular cancer yet but a number of things can make it more likely. It’s probably caused by a combination of things.
If you notice any changes in your testicles or have any concerns about testicular cancer, see your GP.
FAQ: What will happen if I see my GP about a lump in my testicle? FAQ: What will happen if I see my GP about a lump in my testicle?
You may feel embarrassed seeing your GP about a lump in your testicle, but remember this is nothing new to them. Your GP will ask about your symptoms and examine you, and may also ask you about your medical history. If your GP thinks the lump isn't normal, they will refer you to a specialist for more tests. These may include blood tests and an ultrasound scan.
You’re likely to be referred to a urologist – a doctor who specialises in identifying and treating conditions that affect the urinary system and genitals. They will feel the lump to see if it’s likely to be a cancer or not.
You’ll probably need to have blood tests and an ultrasound scan of your testicles. An ultrasound scan uses sound waves to produce an image of the inside of your scrotum and your testicle. It can help to show whether the lump is caused by cancer or another condition.
The outlook for men diagnosed with testicular cancer is one of the best for all cancers. More than nine out of 10 men who are diagnosed early are cured.
A hydrocele is a collection of fluid in your scrotum that causes swelling. It isn’t painful.
Your testicle is surrounded by a protective covering. This makes a fluid that helps your testicles to move freely. Any extra fluid usually drains away but sometimes it can build up if your body makes too much, or if it doesn’t empty away properly. This collection of fluid is called a hydrocele.
A hydrocele usually causes a soft, often painless, swelling in your testicle. It can be caused by an injury to your testicles or an infection, but may also be caused by testicular cancer. Some baby boys are born with a hydrocele – these don’t usually need treatment and get better within a year or two.
If your hydrocele is small, you’re unlikely to need treatment. If it’s large and uncomfortable, you may need to have the hydrocele drained or removed in an operation.
If you develop any lump or swelling in your testicle, see your GP for advice.
- Testicular cancer. BMJ Best Practice. www.bestpractice.bmj.com, published 24 September 2014
- Lumps in the groin and scrotum. PatientPlus. www.patient.info/doctor, reviewed 20 June 2014
- Testes and epididymis anatomy. Medscape. www.emedicine.medscape.com, published 30 October 2013
- Ductus deferens (vas deferens) and ejaculatory duct anatomy. Medscape. www.emedicine.medscape.com, published 11 July 2013
- Understanding how testosterone affects men. National Institutes of Health. www.nih.gov, published September 2013
- Hypogonadism. Medscape. www.emedicine.medscape.com, published 20 October 2014
- Testicular self-examination. British Association of Urological Surgeons. www.baus.org.uk, published March 2014
- Epididymal cysts. PatientPlus. www.patient.info/doctor, reviewed 20 October 2014
- Testicular self-exam. American Cancer Society. www.cancer.org, published 20 January 2015
- Map of Medicine. Testicular Cancer. International View. London: Map of Medicine; 2013 (Issue 1)
- Testicular cancer. PatientPlus. www.patient.info/doctor, reviewed 24 November 2014
- Some facts about testicular cancer. American Cancer Society. www.cancer.org, published January 2015
- Testicular cancer risks and causes. Cancer Research UK. www.cancerresearchuk.org, published 15 January 2014
- Hydrocele. BMJ Best Practice. www.bestpractice.bmj.com, published 14 August 2014
We’d love to know what you think about what you’ve just been reading and looking at – we’ll use it to improve our information. If you’d like to give us some feedback, our short form below will take just a few minutes to complete. And if there's a question you want to ask that hasn't been answered here, please submit it to us. Although we can't respond to specific questions directly, we’ll aim to include the answer to it when we next review this topic.
Let us know what you think using our short feedback form Ask us a question
Reviewed by Rachael Mayfield-Blake, Bupa Health Content Team, April 2015.
Let us know what you think using our short feedback form Ask us a question
About our health information
At Bupa we produce a wealth of free health information for you and your family. We believe that trustworthy information is essential in helping you make better decisions about your health and care. Here are just a few of the ways in which our core editorial principles have been recognised.
Information StandardWe are certified by the Information Standard. This quality mark identifies reliable, trustworthy producers and sources of health information.
What our readers say about us
But don't just take our word for it; here's some feedback from our readers.
“Simple and easy to use website - not alarming, just helpful.”
“It’s informative but not too detailed. I like that it’s factual and realistic about the conditions and the procedures involved. It’s also easy to navigate to areas that you specifically want without having to read all the information.”
“Good information, easy to find, trustworthy.”
Meet the team
Head of health content and clinical engagement
- Dylan Merkett – Lead Editor – UK Customer
- Nicholas Ridgman – Lead Editor – UK Health and Care Services
- Natalie Heaton – Specialist Editor – User Experience
- Pippa Coulter – Specialist Editor – Content Library
- Alice Rossiter – Specialist Editor – Insights
- Laura Blanks – Specialist Editor – Quality
- Michelle Harrison – Editorial Assistant
Our core principles
All our health content is produced in line with our core editorial principles – readable, reliable, relevant – which are represented by our diagram.
In a nutshell, our information is jargon-free, concise and accessible. We know our audience and we meet their health information needs, helping them to take the next step in their health and wellbeing journey.
We use the best quality and most up-to-date evidence to produce our information. Our process is transparent and validated by experts – both our users and medical specialists.
We know that our users want the right information at the right time, in the way that suits them. So we review our content at least every three years to keep it fresh. And we’re embracing new technology and social media so they can get it whenever and wherever they choose.
Here are just a few of the ways in which the quality of our information has been recognised.
The Information Standard certification scheme
You will see the Information Standard quality mark on our content. This is a certification programme, supported by NHS England, that was developed to ensure that public-facing health and care information is created to a set of best practice principles.
It uses only recognised evidence sources and presents the information in a clear and balanced way. The Information Standard quality mark is a quick and easy way for you to identify reliable and trustworthy producers and sources of information.
Certified by the Information Standard as a quality provider of health and social care information. Bupa shall hold responsibility for the accuracy of the information they publish and neither the Scheme Operator nor the Scheme Owner shall have any responsibility whatsoever for costs, losses or direct or indirect damages or costs arising from inaccuracy of information or omissions in information published on the website on behalf of Bupa.
British Medical Association (BMA) patient information awards
We have received a number of BMA awards for different assets over the years. Most recently, in 2013, we received a 'commended' award for our online shared decision making hub.
If you have any feedback on our health information, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us via email: email@example.com. Or you can write to us:
Health Content Team
15-19 Bloomsbury Way