It’s all good being a strong, independent man, but with STIs and testicular cancer doing the rounds, it would be irresponsible not to give yourself a once over every now and then.
Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men aged 15 to 35, but it is relatively easy to treat if spotted early enough. On the other hand, sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and HIV remain a high risk to the populace in all developed countries.
There are some common sense steps you can take to avoid sexually transmitted infection, such as using protection, but even then, it’s wise to check your equipment once in a while for strange lumps or changes.
Here’s our guide to giving yourself a sexual health checkup – it may just save your life!
Are there any obvious changes?
This is worth thinking about first because there are many symptoms and complaints that can be a sign of a problem. You should immediately go to a GP if you have experienced issues like:
- Unusual discharges
- Unusual lumps or changes in texture
- Genital itches or rashes
- Sores or blisters
- Sexual dysfunction, or changes to your normal function
However even if you have no obvious changes at all, it’s important to carry out a sexual health check from time to time.
First, take a moment to check your testicles using the proper procedure:
How to check your testicles for cancer or unusual lumps
- Gently roll one testicle between your fingers and thumbs with each hand.
- Pay attention and look out for any smooth, round lumps, hardened bumps or areas, or any differences in the size, shape or texture of your testicles
It’s important to note that there are blood vessels, sperm-carrying tubes and other things inside your scrotum, which can at first be mistaken for something that shouldn’t be there. This can be worrying at first, but if you carry this out regularly, you will get used to these objects and more easily notice if something changes.
There are many reasons other than cancer as to why a testicle might swell up or change in consistency, including testicular torsion, bruising, hormonal issues and other problems.
However, since catching cancer early is key, and other problems can also affect fertility, we would recommend seeing a doctor immediately if you find anything unusual or noticeably different.
Carry out a Home STI Test
You can of course get tested for STIs at hospitals, doctor’s surgeries and clinics all over. There are even charities that go around carrying out tests for free, and these can often be found in city centres, on university campuses, at concerts and other busy public places.
We would usually recommend you go to something like this, as it adds an extra layer of safety to have an experienced professional carrying out your test. However, we understand that some people may feel nervous about this, live far away from any such clinic, or potentially even struggle to find enough free time.
Sexual health is crucial and should never be avoided, so we recommend people in these situations test themselves at home. There are many online services that offer home STI testing, delivering a swab to your door which you can then post back in order to receive rapid lab results. These include free of charge health clinics and paid online services so be sure to research the best options local to you.
These tests usually consist of several different steps, including:
- Urinating in a small container
- Pricking your finger and drawing blood into a small tube
- A vaginal swab for women
Visit a Sexual Health Clinic
While the above two steps should be carried out at least once a year in order to reduce your chances of developing an STI or testicular cancer without realizing it, there is no real substitute for advice from a medical professional.
Luckily most of us will never need such a substitute, as sexual health clinics are generally readily available and free of charge in developed countries.
In the UK you can find Preston sexual health clinics, London sexual health clinics, Welsh ones, Scottish ones, and many more. Mainland Europe, Canada, Australia and the United States are equally well covered. Generally, sexual health clinics are likely to be wherever you need them without ever charging a penny, and this simply means there is no excuse not to get checked.
Taking the time to visit one of these places once per year and ensure everything is working the way it should be, may just be the best thing you ever did.