Cancer is scary. You know what’s scarier? Cancer in your balls. It may not feel like you hear about it too often, but over 9,000 new cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed this year. The good news is that most things related to testicular cancer are fairly straightforward. Symptoms? Easy to notice. The treatment? Unfortunate, but simplistic in nature. You don’t really start to ask too many questions until you get to the category of After Effects.
Being a man, there is of course going to be a large amount of concern surrounding the health and strength of your “equipment” after the treatment is over. When can I have sex? Will it be difficult to get erections? Will I be able to have kids? These are all important things to know when you’re faced with battling testicular cancer. We’re going to take a look at all of those, but first let’s do a quick recap of testicular cancer symptoms, what to look for, how to find it, and how to treat it.
Testicular Cancer Symptomss
By the time you’re 15 years old, you probably have have a really good idea of what your balls feel like. When it comes to testicular cancer symptoms, this familiarity is nothing but a benefit. The majority of early symptoms will manifest as a change or abnormality in your testicles or scrotum. Here are some of the most common symptoms of testicular cancer:
- A lump in one of your testicles
- A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum area
- A sudden ache or pain in your testicle, scrotum, or groin
- A collection of liquid in the scrotum
Advanced stages of the disease can sometimes manifest in additional symptoms like lower back pain, shortness of breath, and pain in the abdomen. It is important to note that many of these could be symptoms of issues other than testicular cancer, so either way it’s a good idea to see a doctor immediately if you’re noticing any changes or discomfort.
Testicular cancer is one of the most treatable cancers around. TC has a success rate of 96-99%, as long as it is found early and treated quickly. Some even more positive news; the main symptom is a lump in your testicle which is usually very noticeable! A change like that is usually pretty easy to find, but if you want to make sure you’re not missing anything, you should perform regular self-checks. These are simple, non-invasive examinations that will take up less than 5 minutes of your post shower routine.
Here’s how to do a successful self-examination:
- It’s best to examine yourself after a warm shower, so that your scrotum is relaxed.
- Look for any swelling in your scrotum
- Place your middle and index fingers on the bottom of your testicle with your thumb on top.
- Gently, but firmly, roll the testicle between your fingers and your thumb, feeling for any lumps or abnormalities.
- Repeat this with your other testicle, looking for irregularities.
- Make sure to locate your epididymis, which is a collection of tissue at the base of each testicle, so that you won’t mistake this for a lump.
Don’t pretend like you don’t play with your balls at least once a day anyway. Performing this self-exam just gives you a reason!
The most common treatment of testicular cancer is the removal of the affected testicle. Now that may not sound extremely fun, but if it’s between that and having it spread any further upward, the choice is clear. Depending on the stage and severity of your diagnosis, the surgery can be followed up with additional radiation or chemotherapy. Only 5% of men are found to have cancer in both of their testicles. This, unfortunately, will require both testicles to be removed.
So that’s what you need to know. Now let’s get into what you want to know. How does Testicular Cancer affect your sexual health?
It goes without saying that you’ll have considerable interest in knowing the future of your sex life in the wake of testicular cancer. A lot of this can depend on your specific diagnosis, and in many cases there are ways to either avoid, or counteract the negative effects.
Does Testicular Cancer Affect Your Sex Drive?
With only one testicle, will you even still want to have sex? The answer, fortunately, is yes! Of course all surgeries require a varying amount of recovery time but in this case, once you’re back on your feet, you should be good to go. Most of the time, the removal of one testicle will not diminish sex drive, as it still produces more than enough testosterone to get you in the mood.
However, if you are one of the 5% of men who needs to have both testicles removed, then you will not be able to produce your own testosterone. Therefore, your libido will be severely reduced. However, there is such a thing as Testosterone Replacement Therapy which can be a great way to regain sex drive and feel like yourself again.
Every man’s favorite topic, right? Who doesn’t love talking about erectile dysfunction? Well the good news here is that having a testicle removed does not alone result in an inability to get hard. However, receiving a diagnosis of testicular cancer then undergoing the subsequent surgery can cause a variety of mental and emotional effects including feelings of anxiety, isolation, and loss of masculinity. These feelings can often, and understandably, result in erectile dysfunction.
Check out our article on how to overcome psychological ED.
This is a big one. Since testicular cancer, if the most commonly diagnosed cancer in males between ages 15-44, there’s a good chance that those who have it will still be hoping to father children in the future.
As with sex drive and erectile dysfunction, having only one testicle removed will not cause an issue with your fertility. In the unlikely event that you need to have both removed, infertility is unfortunately guaranteed. If your treatment involves radiation therapy, your fertility may be temporarily affected, as any damage from radiation usually goes away after a few months. Although it is usually recommended that men do not attempt to father a child until a year after their last radiation treatment, just to ensure the health of the resulting child.
If you want to make sure you’re preserving your fertility, it’s a good idea to utilize a sperm-bank prior to undergoing any treatment or surgery.
Testicular cancer is a fight many men are able to win. But that doesn’t make it an easy one. The best way to beat testicular cancer is to stay informed. Arm yourself with these facts and perform self-checks once a month in order to make sure you’re staying ahead of the game.