As a urologist and a member of the American Urological Association, we actually recommend that all men perform a testicular self-examination approximately once per month.
There are other organizations that say it's not necessary to do that. However, we know that if you have increased risk of testicular cancer, such as a family history or you have had a history of something called an undescended testicle, then you should definitely be doing self-examinations. Because you have an increased risk of developing the cancer.
So, the way we recommend doing the examination is pick a time when we know that the testicles are going to be descended within the scrotum. The best time is when it's warm and in the shower. When you're taking a warm shower, the testicles often descend down into the scrotum making them easier to feel.
The examination requires palpation or what we call feeling the testicle. You want to roll the testicle between your fingers in the shower when it's easy to feel the whole testicle. The testicle should feel soft and squishy all throughout.
The testicle has several parts. There's the testicle. There's an area on top of the testicle called the epididymus. Sometimes if people don't know what they're feeling, the epididymus can feel like a little nodule or a mass. It really isn't. It's a normal part of the testicle.
There can be conditions within the epididymus. You can feel little lumps or masses in the epididymus which is on top of the testicle. Often we see patients who are concerned that that may represent a cancerous area. And bottom line, if you're not sure, if you feel something that you think is abnormal, you should be evaluated.
However, when you're doing the examination, feel the testicle. The testicle should feel soft and squishy. It should not have any firm areas. There should be no masses. A testicular tumor would feel like a firm, hard mass in either a part of the testicle or sometimes involving the entire testicle.
However, again, if you're not sure, you're concerned, and you feel there may be a possibility of some abnormality, it never hurts to get checked out by your primary care physician or your local urologist.