Continued from last week
Particularly when sexually active, men should regularly perform genital self-examination to identify testicular cancer or any sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that present themselves visibly. How regularly? Well, there is no golden rule, but once a month should be satisfactory.
For testicular cancer, the following are recommended:-
Once a month, after taking a bath or shower:
- Examine each testicle individually.
- With both hands, hold the testicle between your thumbs and fingers and roll it gently.
- Be on the alert for any hard lumps or nodules, smooth rounded masses or any change in the size, shape or consistency of your testes.
- Do not mistake the epididymis; a tightly coiled tube on the upper, outer side of each testicle or the blood vessels and spermatic cord that extend from the testicles as being cancer.
Not only is regular testicular examination a good way to catch testicular cancer early, but it also provides an opportunity to examine the penis and testicles for signs of an STI.
There are many red flags for STIs. Be vigorous in your self-examinations and know that certain STIs, such as chlamydia, can be completely asymptomatic; meaning that you may show absolutely no identifiable signs or symptoms of infection. In such cases, it’s important that you keep an open channel of communication with your sexual partners. If your partner develops an STI, there may be a chance that you gave it to them without knowing.
These are highlights of some of the major signs and symptoms of common STIs that you should be on the lookout for:
- Discharge from the penis: The drip could be thick and yellow or it could be watery and very slight.
- Change in smell (including foul odour) or colour of semen.
- Blood in the semen or urine (dark color).
- Pain during sex or when urinating or ejaculating.
- Pain in the pelvic area.
- Sores; painless red sores on the genital area, anus, tongue, and/or throat.
- Flesh-coloured or reddish bumps, sores or blisters on the skin of the genitals that may or may not itch.
- Small blisters that turn into scabs on the genital area.
- Soft, flesh-coloured, cauliflower-like warts around the genital area.
In addition, many STIs, particularly viral infections like HIV or herpes, induce symptoms similar to the flu that may serve as early indicators of infection. If you notice a sore throat, swollen glands, fever, or body aches in the weeks following unprotected sex, you may want to consider following up with an STI check just to be sure.
Do not panic if you do notice something unusual. Pearly penile papules found around the rim of the head of the penis are no need for alarm. Similarly, pimples or irritation from shaving are normal. If you are unsure, it’s always best to see a doctor first to understand what is and isn’t normal. Waiting is the worst thing you can do. If you are worried, just remember; every man has a penis! Go see a doctor.