Medical exams are usually pretty straightforward. Many parts of the exam make sense
to most guys: The scale is used to weigh you, the stethoscope is used to listen to
For other parts of your body, the doctor's sense of touch and training are the
key to knowing how things should feel. During the physical, the doctor will touch
your belly to feel for any problems with your liver or spleen. The doc may also feel
the lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, and groin to see if there is any swelling,
which can indicate an infection or other problem.
The doctor also needs to touch and feel your testicles and
the area around them to be sure they're developing properly and there are no problems.
Two possible problems that can affect teen guys are hernias and — rarely —
What Are Hernias?
A hernia is when a
part of the intestine pushes out from the abdomen and into the groin or scrotum (the
sac of skin that the testicles hang in). Most hernias happen because of a weakness
in the abdominal wall that the person was born with. If a piece of intestine becomes
trapped in the scrotum, it can cut off the blood supply to the intestine and cause
serious problems if the situation isn't quickly corrected.
A doctor can feel for a hernia by using his or her fingers to examine the area
around the groin and testicles. The doctor may ask you to cough while pressing on
or feeling the area. Sometimes, the hernia causes a bulge that the doctor can detect.
If this happens, surgery almost always repairs the hernia completely.
What Is Testicular Cancer?
Testicular cancer is unusual in teen guys, but it can happen. Testicular cancer is
the most common cancer in guys aged 20 to 34, though — a good reason to get
in the habit of regular testicular exams.
What Happens During a Testicular Exam?
Your doctor should examine your testicles at least once a year. He or she will
grasp one testicle at a time, rolling it gently between the thumb and first finger
to feel for lumps. The doctor will also feel if the testicle is hardened or enlarged.
The doctor will teach you how to do testicular
self-exams. Examine yourself at least once a month for any lumps or bumps on your
testicles. Knowing how your testicles feel when they're healthy will help you know
when something feels different down there. Noticing any new testicular lumps or bumps
as soon as possible gives the best chances for survival and total cure if it turns
out to be cancer.
Even though it might feel weird to have your testicles checked out, it's no big
deal to the doctor. Sometimes when a doctor is examining that area, you might get
an erection — this is something you can't control. It's a normal reaction that
happens often during genital exams on guys. It won't upset or bother the doctor, so
there's no need to feel embarrassed.