Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young Australian men. More than 900 men in Australia are estimated to be diagnosed with this type of cancer by the end of 2020. For the majority of cases the outlook is still positive with survival rates above 95 per cent if discovered early.
Although there are no proven measures to prevent testicular cancer, talking to your doctor about any unusual changes or discomfort in your balls can help you get checked out by a specialist and receive appropriate treatment.
Nutting out the details
Your family jewels — anatomically referred to as ‘testes’ or ‘testicles’ — are busy boys in your body making 200 million sperm every day. They’re the male reproductive gland in all animals, including humans. Their function is to produce hormones such as testosterone as well as sperm.
If you were born with goolies and still have them, you’ll find them dangling inside your scrotum. They should be of similar shape and size — not dissimilar to large, whole walnuts. It’s often the case that one will hang lower in your nutsack than the other due to entirely normal anatomical differences — often the left one will droop lower than the right.
Some guys’ bollocks might be smaller, or larger than others. In most cases, this is pretty normal too. Having small testicles may be a sign of Klinefelter syndrome — a genetic condition affecting males. A medical device called an orchidometer can be used by a healthcare professional to measure the size of your swingers in case you’re concerned.
“Going for regular sexual health tests and frequently fondling your fruits are important risk mitigations for everyone.”
Ordinarily, your gonads are happy enough nestled between your legs doing their thing. But in the case of testicular cancer an abnormal growth or tumour can develop in one or both balls.
While there are no known links between injury to your nuts, sporting strains, hot baths or wearing tight clothes, other factors may contribute. Having had an undescended testicle during infancy or a family history of testicular cancer may increase the risk.
Some studies have shown that men living with HIV may be up to 8.2 times more likely to develop testicular cancer than HIV negative men. Going for regular sexual health tests and frequently fondling your fruits are important activities for everyone.
Know thy nuts
The Movember Foundation was founded by two Aussie blokes over a quiet beer in Melbourne. Now recognised on a global scale, its cause is to stop men dying too young.
Besides highlighting other men’s health issues, the Movember Foundation recognises that rates of testicular cancer have doubled over the last 50 years — and it’s not being talked about enough.
As part of their ongoing work to halve the number of men dying from testicular cancer by 2030, the first step on their plan of action is to help men know the signs, symptoms and risk factors.
They say: “The best thing you can do for your testicles is give them a bit of a feel on a regular basis, and if something doesn’t seem right, head to the doctor.” To help you get the lowdown on checking your own nuts (or someone else’s), they’ve produced a video and a handy visual guide for self-examination.
Movember Foundation | Know Thy Nuts
If you notice a change in the shape or size of your ‘nads, a lump you don’t recall being there before, or if they just become painful to touch, make sure you see a doctor to get them professionally checked out.
Remember, not all lumps and bumps are a sure sign of testicular cancer. Having a non-harmful epididymal cyst can be very common too. As always, if you do notice something, it’s best to get checked out by a doctor to be sure.
Treating your nuts
Treatment options for testicular cancer may vary depending on whether and how far the cancer might have spread. If the cancer is found only in the testicle and hasn’t spread to lymph nodes in the abdomen or pelvis, treatment may involve an orchidectomy procedure — removal of one or both testicles. If the cancer has spread beyond the testicle, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy may also be considered.
In the case of testicle removal, prosthetic ball implants can be inserted. Importantly, losing a bollock or two shouldn’t alter your ability to have sex. Keeping one intact still enables the production of sperm.
For some guys, using erectile dysfunction medication may help gain or sustain an erection if problematic. Beyond sex being nice and pleasure being good for you, there are additional health benefits to climaxing too — shooting your load more often could reduce your risk of having prostate cancer.
“The best thing you can do for your testicles is give them a bit of a feel on a regular basis, and if something doesn’t seem right, head to the doctor.”
If you’re up for sharing the health benefits of sex with other guys, then be sure to use an HIV prevention strategy that works for you, as well as having regular sexual health check ups. With various options available, it’s easy to choose, use and combine strategies that involve PrEP, an undetectable viral load and condoms. Discover organised information to help you understand and compare safe sex choices in Wanna compare tools? Here’s how safe sex choices measure up down under.