I have lumps in my testicles. I know I should tell a doctor, but I'm nervous about what will happenwill the doctor have to feel my testicles and will it hurt?
Ruben*

You should tell your doctor about any lumps or swelling in your testicles. He or she will have to examine your testicles and feel for the lumps — you may feel a little embarrassed, but it usually doesn't hurt.

Lumps in the testicles could be many things. Some are perfectly normal. For example, you may be feeling the epididymis, the tightly coiled tube where sperm are stored.

Other lumps may be signs of a problem, though. You may have a swelling of the veins in the scrotum. This is called a varicocele. Another thing that may cause a lump near the testicles is a hernia, which is when part of the intestine comes into the scrotum through a small space from the abdomen. In rare cases lumps may be a sign of testicular cancer, which is usually curable if it's diagnosed early (think of Lance Armstrong). Often, lumps don't turn out to be anything serious. That's why it's a good idea to see a doctor to set your mind at rest.

Your exam will probably start out like any other doctor's visit. Someone may weigh you, listen to your heartbeat, take your blood pressure, etc. When you meet with the doctor, he or she will examine your testicles. It may be embarrassing, and some guys get an erection during the exam. This is totally normal, and your doctor knows it isn't sexual, so don't worry.

Let the doctor know if any part of the exam hurts, since that can be a clue to what's causing the lumps. Your doctor will also be able to tell you the proper way to perform a testicular examination on yourself at home. That way you will know what to look for in the future.

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

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