Why do doctors check your balls and make you cough?
If you are a male, you have probably been through a physical exam at some point in your life. One of the common procedures in a physical exam is the checking of the testicles and coughing. But have you ever wondered why doctors perform this particular exam? In this article, we will discuss the purpose and importance of this exam.
The Anatomy of Male Reproductive System
Before discussing the exam, let us first understand the anatomy of the male reproductive system. The male reproductive system consists of several organs that work together to produce and transport sperm. These organs include the testes, epididymis, vas deferens, seminal vesicles, prostate gland, and urethra.
The testes are the male reproductive glands located in the scrotum. Their primary function is to produce and store sperm. The testes also produce testosterone, a hormone that plays a crucial role in male sexual development and overall health.
The epididymis is a long, coiled tube located behind the testes. It is responsible for storing and transporting sperm from the testes to the vas deferens.
The vas deferens is a long, muscular tube that transports sperm from the epididymis to the ejaculatory ducts. During ejaculation, the semen travels through the vas deferens and mixes with other fluids to form semen.
The seminal vesicles are small glands located behind the bladder. They produce a fluid that mixes with the sperm to form semen.
The prostate gland is a small walnut-shaped gland located below the bladder. It produces a fluid that nourishes and protects the sperm.
The urethra is a tube that connects the bladder to the penis. It carries urine from the bladder and semen from the ejaculatory ducts out of the body.
The exam in question is called a testicular exam. It is a simple physical exam done by a doctor or a nurse practitioner to check the health of the testicles. The exam typically takes only a few minutes and is done in a private room.
Step 1: Visual Exam
The first step is a visual exam. The doctor will visually inspect the testicles and scrotum for any abnormalities, such as swelling, lumps, or redness. These abnormalities may be a sign of a serious condition such as testicular cancer or an infection.
Step 2: Palpation
The second step is a palpation exam. The doctor will gently feel each testicle to check for any lumps or abnormalities. The doctor will also feel the epididymis and vas deferens to ensure that they are not swollen or tender.
Step 3: Cough Test
The cough test is the final step of the exam. The patient will be asked to cough while the doctor is palpating the testicles. The reason for this test is to check for any hernias. A hernia occurs when a part of the intestine pushes through a weak spot in the abdominal muscle. Coughing increases intra-abdominal pressure, which can cause a hernia to bulge out.
Why is the Exam Important?
The testicular exam is important because it can help detect early signs of testicular cancer or other health problems. Testicular cancer is a rare form of cancer that affects the testicles. It is highly treatable if caught early, but can be fatal if left untreated. The exam can also help detect other conditions such as epididymitis, hydrocele, and varicocele.
Testicular cancer typically affects men between the ages of 15 and 35, but can occur at any age. The cancer typically starts as a small lump or swelling on one testicle. Other signs may include heaviness in the scrotum, pain or discomfort in the testicle or scrotum, and a dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin.
Epididymitis is an inflammation of the epididymis. The most common cause is a bacterial infection, and symptoms may include pain, swelling, and redness in the scrotum.
A hydrocele is a fluid-filled sac that forms around the testicle. It is usually painless, but may cause discomfort or heaviness in the scrotum.
A varicocele is a swelling of the veins in the scrotum. It may cause pain or discomfort, and may also affect fertility.
When Should You Get Tested?
The American Cancer Society recommends that men perform a testicular exam once a month. The exam can be done in the shower or bath, where the warm water can help relax the scrotum. If you notice any abnormalities such as swelling, lumps, or changes in size or shape of the testicles, you should contact your doctor right away.
The testicular exam is a simple and effective way to check the health of the testicles and detect early signs of testicular cancer and other health problems. It is important for men to perform self-exams regularly and to seek medical attention if they notice any abnormalities. By doing so, they can ensure that any problems are caught early and treated promptly.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is a testicular exam?
- Why is a testicular exam important?
- When should you get a testicular exam?
- What is a hernia?
- What are some common conditions that can be detected during a testicular exam?
A testicular exam is a simple physical exam that checks the health of the testicles. It is typically done by a doctor or a nurse practitioner and includes a visual exam, palpation, and a cough test.
The exam is important because it can help detect early signs of testicular cancer and other health problems. Testicular cancer is highly treatable if caught early. The exam can also help detect other conditions such as epididymitis, hydrocele, and varicocele.
The American Cancer Society recommends that men perform a monthly self-exam. If you notice any abnormalities, such as swelling, lumps, or changes in size or shape of the testicles, you should contact your doctor right away.
A hernia occurs when a part of the intestine pushes through a weak spot in the abdominal muscle. Coughing increases intra-abdominal pressure, which can cause a hernia to bulge out.
Some common conditions that can be detected during a testicular exam include testicular cancer, epididymitis, hydrocele, and varicocele.
- American Cancer Society. Testicular Cancer. (n.d.)
- Urology Care Foundation. Testicular Cancer. (n.d.)
- Mayo Clinic. Testicular Self-Exam for Testicular Cancer. (2021)
- Johns Hopkins Medicine. Testicular Cancer. (n.d.)