What does a healthy testicle feel like?

Dr Luke Powles
Associate Clinical Director, Health Clinics Bupa Global and UK
13 October 2022
Next review due October 2025

You should check your testicles (also called testes or balls) regularly for any changes, lumps or swelling. Regular checks can help you get to know what is normal for you. But how and when should you check them? And how do you know if your testicles are healthy? I’ve put together a simple guide to remove the guesswork.

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How often should I check my testicles?

It’s important to regularly check your testicles from puberty onwards. You should start checking yourself from the age of around 15 onwards. Carrying out self-checks regularly can help you to spot any problems, such as testicular cancer, earlier. This is when abnormal cells grow in your testicles. Testicular cancer is easier to treat the earlier it’s found. So, regular checks are recommended.

How do I check my testicles?

The best time to check your testicles for lumps or swelling is after a warm bath or shower. This is because it’s easier to check your balls when you are warm and relaxed. When checking your testicles:

  • stand in front of a mirror, if possible
  • hold your balls in your palm
  • roll each testicle between your finger and thumb
  • gently feel the surface of each ball

How should my testicles look and feel?

A healthy testicle has a firm and smooth surface, but doesn’t feel hard.

You might have one testicle slightly bigger than the other. This is normal. It’s also normal for one testicle to hang slightly lower than your other one. But any big differences between them should be checked out by your doctor.

When carrying out your check, you might feel something tube-like behind each ball. This is called the epididymis, and it’s a tube that carries sperm to each testicle.

What should I look for when checking my testicles?

When checking yourself, visit your doctor if you find:

  • lumps or swelling
  • pain
  • hardness
  • one testicle noticeably different from the other
  • an increase in the size of one testicle

You should also see your doctor if you experience a heavy feeling in your testicles, a dull ache, or if you notice anything else unusual.

Will my testicles change as I get older?

As you get older, you might start to notice that your testicles get slightly smaller. As you age, you produce less of a hormone called testosterone. This can cause your testicles to reduce in size. This is normal, and is part of the natural changes that happen in our bodies as we get older.

How can I look after my testicles?

Regular self-checks are an important way to look after your testicles, but there are also other things you can do.

Protect your testicles when playing sport as this can help to reduce your risk of injury. Testicle injuries are painful and can also affect your fertility. You can wear a plastic protective cup (known as a jockstrap and cup) over your genitals during sport to help prevent this.

Research has also shown that smoking can have a negative impact on your fertility. So, if you smoke, try quitting as another way to look after your testicles.

There are also studies suggesting a link between diet and sperm quality. So, it’s important to eat a varied and balanced diet if you can, that contains lots of vitamins and minerals. This can help to keep your testicles healthy.

What should I do if I feel a lump or swelling in my testicle?

If you notice any unusual changes in your testicles, such as a lump or swelling, contact your GP. But, try not to worry as lumps are often caused by things that aren’t testicular cancer. Lumps can also be a sign of a hernia, cyst or infection. Your doctor can check your testicles and answer any questions or concerns you may have.

If you feel nervous or uncomfortable about visiting your doctor, you could ask:

  • to be examined by a doctor of the same gender
  • for someone you trust to come with you for support
  • for a chaperone (someone to be in the room with you and the doctor during your examination)

Remember that your doctor has performed lots of testicular exams before, so don’t feel embarrassed.

Protect your health and make testicle checks part of your normal routine. It’s always better to get checked if you’re worried that something isn’t right.

Becoming unwell or developing an injury can be disruptive to our busy lives; which is why our health insurance aims to help you get back on your feet sooner rather than later, so you can get back to doing the things you enjoy.

Dr Luke Powles
Dr Luke Powles
Associate Clinical Director, Health Clinics Bupa Global and UK

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    • General Medical Council. Intimate examinations and chaperones. Published March 2013.

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