Men's Health Month – Testicular health
In the fourth in a series of blogs for Men's Health Awareness Month, Adam Lamb looks at testicular health, the early signs of any issues and why early diagnosis is vital.
Posted on 23 November 2020
We have reached the end of Men’s Health Awareness Month and we are now heading towards our first Coronavirus Christmas. My November has been spent in lockdown, glued to the US election whilst growing a tashe for Movember, a month-long charity event set up to highlight and fundraise for men’s health causes that include mental health, suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer.
Did you know that in the UK, men visit their GP on average half as many times as women? On top of this worrying statistic is the fact that we are currently stuck in a global pandemic that has no end in sight. In April 2020, NHS England found that four out of 10 people were not seeking help from their GP because they were afraid of being a burden during a pandemic.
Being a burden should never be a consideration for not visiting your GP if you are worried about your health, regardless of how big or small you perceive the problem to be. The sooner a problem is shared, the quicker it can be solved.
One area that is important for men not to ignore is testicular health. Testicles are responsible for the production of sperm and also testosterone so it is vital we look after them.
Problems with your testicles can start when you develop a lump or a swelling. Whilst both these are not usually caused by anything serious, you should always speak with a doctor and get them checked.
The longer a problem with your testicles is left untreated, the worse it can get. With some testicular problems, time is very much of the essence and if you don’t act fast, there can be serious consequences.
In my role as a healthcare solicitor at Leigh Day, I have come across three different types of testicular problems where early discovery and diagnosis is vital to having the best long-term outcome. It is important that we all know the early signs of these problems, so that we seek GP advice if we are worried.
Testicular cancer is where a tumour forms on or inside one of the testicles. Typical symptoms of testicular cancer include:
- A painless swelling or lump in one of the testicles,
- A change in shape, texture, firmness or appearance of a testicle,
- A dull intermittent ache or pain or the feeling of heaviness in the scrotum.
Testicular cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer of men between the ages of 15 and 49 years old in the UK. It is also one of the most treatable types of cancer and it has a survival rate of above 95 per cent. However, if undiagnosed, the cancer can spread further than your testicles and become far more complicated to treat.
Testicular torsion is when the testicle twists around the spermatic cord. When this happens, it cuts off the blood flow to the testicle. Symptoms of a testicular torsion include:
- A sudden, severe pain on one side of the scrotum,
- Swelling of the scrotum,
- Abdominal pain,
- Nausea and vomiting,
- A testicle that's positioned higher than normal or at an unusual angle,
- Frequent urination,
A testicular torsion can happen at any time - during exercise, sitting, standing or even sleeping. It is a medical emergency and should be treated within four to six hours of the onset of pain. If the blood supply is not restored quickly, it will cause the testicle to shrink and die.
Epididymitis is a testicular infection where the tube at the back of the testicle becomes painful and swollen. Symptoms of epididymitis include:
- A sudden or gradual pain in one or both testicles,
- The scrotum feeling warm, tender and swollen,
- A build-up of fluid around the testicle that feels like a lump or swelling
Whilst epididymitis can be treated easily with antibiotics, if it is ignored it can spread to the testicle and can lead to chronic testicular pain, the growth of an abscess, infertility and the loss of your testicle.
It is important to examine your testicles once a month to check for any changes, swellings or lumps. The best time to do this is after you have taken a bath or shower by resting your testicles in the palm of your hand, and gently rolling each one between a finger and your thumb. For further information on examining yourself, please visit the Movember “guide to checking your nuts”.
If you find something strange, are experiencing swelling or sudden and unexplained pain in one or both of your testicles, don’t stew over whether it’s serious or not – get checked out by a doctor. The earlier a problem is diagnosed, the better the chance of successful treatment will be.
I understand that for some men, the idea of sitting and talking with a doctor about your testicles can be embarrassing, worrying or stressful. I also appreciate that whilst we are in a middle of a global pandemic, people want to avoid visiting the doctor. However, if there is a problem or you are worried about your testicles, go see a doctor and tell them what is worrying you.
The earlier the problem is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can be given and the better your chances will be of a full recovery will be.
I am a healthcare solicitor at Leigh Day with a particular interest in Men’s Health issues. If you have suffered due to the late diagnosis of a testicular torsion, infection or cancer, then please contact me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0203 780 0431 for a chat. Me and my colleagues will listen to your story to try and find out whether something went wrong. If something did go wrong with your treatment and care, we will do our very best to prove it and win compensation for you.