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Testicular Examination and Testicular Self-Examination (TSE)

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How It Feels

A testicular examination by your doctor may cause mild discomfort if your testicles are painful, swollen, or inflamed. Whenever the genital area is touched, there is a possibility your body will react, and you may have an erection. This is a normal response that your doctor is aware of and you do not need to feel embarrassed.

Usually there is no pain or discomfort associated with a testicular self-examination (TSE) unless a testicle is swollen or tender. A cancerous lump usually is firm to the touch and usually is not tender or painful when pressed.

Risks

There are no risks linked with a testicular examination or testicular self-examination (TSE). But false-positive results may lead to diagnostic tests or procedures that you don't need.

Results

Testicular examination and testicular self-examination (TSE) are two methods to detect lumps or abnormalities of the testiclescamera.gif.

Testicular examination and testicular self-examination (TSE)
Normal:

Each testicle should feel firm but not hard, and the surface should be very smooth, without any lumps or bumps. The spongy, tube-shaped structure (epididymis) may be felt on the top and down the back side of each testicle. One testicle (usually the left) may hang slightly lower than the other, and one testicle may be slightly larger than the other. This difference is usually normal.

No pain or discomfort is experienced during testicular examination or TSE.

Abnormal:

A small, hard lump (often about the size of a pea) is felt on the surface of the testicle, or the testicle is swollen or enlarged. If you notice a lump or swelling during TSE, contact your doctor immediately. Do not delay or wait for the lump to go away, because it may be an early sign of testicular cancer. Immediate treatment provides the best chance for a cure.

One or both testicles are not felt. If you cannot feel one or both testicles while performing TSE, contact your doctor. This may mean an undescended testicle.

A soft collection of thin tubes (often referred to as a "bag of worms" or "spaghetti") is felt above or behind the testicle. This may mean a varicocele.

Sudden (acute) pain or swelling in the scrotum that is noticed during the testicular examination or TSE may mean an infection (epididymitis) or blockage of blood flow to the testicle (testicular torsion), either of which requires immediate medical evaluation.

A free-floating lump in the scrotum that is not attached to a testicle may be present but is not a cause for concern.

If you cannot feel both testicles in your baby's scrotum (descended), talk to his doctor.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 28, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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