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Checking for men’s lumps and bumps

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I recently discussed breast check-ups, so here is one for the men out there. This week I am talking about the prostate and testicles.

What are they?

The prostate is a small gland in the male reproductive system which makes the fluid that feeds and protects sperm. The prostate is roughly the size of a walnut, but gets larger as you age. It sits just below the bladder and is located near the back passage or anus. Prostate growth is reliant on testosterone. If the prostate grows too large it can inhibit the flow of urine.

The testes (balls) are located in a pouch called the scrotum and are responsible for making sperm. Each testicle is about the size of a small egg. Testicles develop in your lower belly before you are born and then descend into the scrotum either prior to birth or soon after.

When and why you should check your balls

Start by becoming familiar with your balls. They need check-ups just like your car or motorbike. It is very easy to start this when you are showering – just soap up and explore away. When you are familiar with
your body, it is easier to notice anything unusual.

Prostates can be checked by your doctor and involve a gloved finger up your backside. As uncomfortable as it sounds, it is important to have an initial check once you reach the age of 50.

How to check them and what to look for

If you are experiencing any symptoms such as lower back pain, frequent or painful urination, unable to urinate easily or painful ejaculation at any time, then get a prostate check done.

When checking your testes, see how they sit, what they feel like. Are they the same size? It may be easier to do this while looking in a mirror. Start by gently feeling each ball and check for any tenderness and swelling. Try and do this once a month.

Many men have one ball that is slightly larger than the other. Also, one might hang lower than the other. If you find any lumps or bumps, don’t panic as it is relatively uncommon to get testicular cancer. Bumpy balls can often be an enlarged vein called a varicocele. This is not cancerous but can be painful and impact fertility so see your doctor.

Pampering your balls

Wear comfortable and good-fitting underwear and limit wearing tight trousers. If you play sports, wear a protective cup to prevent trauma. Stop smoking or reduce cigarettes and alcohol consumption.

Embrace your balls and check them out!

Karen Owens, R.N.

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