Most people think that the penis and testicles are pretty simple and straightforward. We don’t hear a lot of talk about penis health. When we do, it often focuses on STIs or ED (erectile dysfunction). There is much more to consider and talk about, when it comes to men’s health.
There are many factors that can affect the health of the penis and testicles,as we age, those things start to multiply. So, what is penis health?
What is penis health?
When we talk about penis health, there are some common things we are referring to.
- Your ability to urinate with ease and comfort
- Your ability to achieve and maintain an erection
- Your fertility (if you are wanting to have children)
- Avoiding STIs
Hormone levels, age, health conditions, hygiene, and sex are all factors that can affect your penis health.
As we age our testosterone levels start to drop and this can lead to issues that you need to focus on. As testosterone levels decrease, your chances of developing sexual dysfunctions like ED increase. Blood pressure issues and conditions like diabetes also have an adverse affect on penis health. Improper hygiene of uncircumcised men can also be a factor. Being circumcised doesn’t mean you don’t have hygiene issues to consider.
Lastly, sex can also be a factor to penis health. No, a lack of sex will not cause health related issues, though there are studies that show its impact on our mental health. Rough sex can cause harm to your penis, like a traumatic penis fracture. Accidentally bending your erect penis can cause this to happen.
Conditions that affect penis health
There are plenty of conditions that can affect the health of the penis and sexual activity. This is why frequent checks are important, to catch them before they become larger issues.
Some of the conditions that can affect penis health are:
- Erectile dysfunction – the inability to get and maintain an erection
- Ejaculation problems – inability to ejaculate, premature ejaculation, delayed ejaculation, or retrograde ejaculation. Retrograde ejaculation is where semen enters the bladder instead of the penis
- Anorgasmia– the inability to achieve an orgasm despite stimulation
- STIs – HIV, gonorrhea (which is on the rise), chlamydia, syphilis (also on the rise), and genital herpes.
- Peyronie’s disease – development of scar tissue inside the penis that can often end up in a painful erection and/or extremely bent penis.
These are only a few of the many conditions left untreated that can cause problems.
Just a couple of nuts
When it comes to health, your penis isn’t the only thing you should worry about. Testicle health is important and becomes more so as we age. Men dont always pay attention to their anatomy to notice something is wrong until its is often a bigger problem.
Some of this stems from being taught that touching or paying attention to your penis and testicles isn’t what a “good Christian boy” does. We are then chastised for touching it and made to feel ashamed. This is why teaching men’s sexual health is important.
In a study done by The Gay Men’s Health Project, only 37% of men’s said they regularly checked for lumps on their testicles. The study also found that 7% of the men surveyed had checked only once and that 4% have never checked.
That means almost four men out of ten know how and regularly check for testicular cancer symptoms. That number should be a little scary to you, especially if you are of the other 6 people.
How to do self exams
If this leaves you wondering what you should be looking for or how to check, here is some simple information.
What should I be looking for?
Whether we are talking about your penis or testicles, you should be checking for discoloration, lumps, or swelling. If you notice a lump on your testicles the size of a pea or larger, then head over to your doctor. Is there a change in texture or any aches or pains? These are things you should bring up at your next wellness visit.
What should my penis look and feel like?
Look at your penis, do you notice any discoloration, lumps, or damage to the skin. Lightly squeeze the shaft to check for any internal lumps, firmness, or tender areas. If you have foreskin, move it back to check underneath.
What should my testicles feel like?
Your testicles should feel smooth to the touch. They shouldn’t feel overly heavy or any increase in firmness. If you are checking and happen to notice something that feels like a tube on the back of your testicles, that is normal. What you are feeling is your epididymis, it is what transfers semen from the testicles, up the vas deferens, and to the penis before ejaculation.
What is the best way to check?
As we are all aware, when we are cold, nervous, and a few other reactions, our scrotum will tighten up to protect the testicles. So the best way to check them is when your scrotum is relaxed, jump in a warm bath or shower. This will make it easier to notice anything that may be out of the ordinary.
Gently roll your testicles, one at a time, between your thumb and forefinger. You are checking for any hard lumps that are non-painful. You can start at your epididymis, it will be slightly tender to the touch. Also check the vas deferens, the tube that extends above the epididymis. Any lumps on the epididymis are, typically, not cancerous. If you have concerns, get them checked.
In most cases, cancerous lumps are typically found on the sides and sometimes front of the testicles. Here is a great video on how to check your testicles.
How often should I do a self-exam?
Best practice is once a month. This will give you a better chance to see any differences from the last time you checked. Remember, the better you know your penis, scrotum, testicles, the more you will be able to tell if something is out of place. Then you can advise your doctor.
You may find something that you think is a problem and your doctor tells you there is no need for worry. But if it is an issue, they have the means to make sure you are getting the proper and immediate treatment you may need.
If you’re worried about what a genital exam may cover, have no fear rectal exams start for men over the age of 55, unless there are other causes that may require one to sooner. Remember that it, too, is an important part of making sure you are healthy.
Remember, when in doubt, check it out!
Prevention is key
Not all penis or testicle issues can be prevented, so why not work on the ones that can? A few steps can help improve your overall genital health and keep you safe and active for years to come. Here are a few things to consider.
- Be sexually responsible – this means if you are having sex, wear a condom. Also maintaining a mutually monogamous relationship can help limit exposures to STIs
- Make healthy choices – this one is multi-level. Eating right and exercising to maintain healthy weight. Staying physically active can help reduce erectile dysfunction.
- Know your medications – side effects of medicines we take can affect our genital health.
- Mindful of mental health – depression can also affect your overall genital health. With the pandemic keeping us inside and not allowing us to socialize, depression can be common. Seek help if you are having feelings of depression. My Resources page has links to places here in the Cleveland area.
- Stop smoking and limit alcohol consumption
How it all connects
It is important to remember that your penis and testicles are a good indicator of your overall health. Many of their issues are directly tied to other health issues. You should be getting a checkup at least once a year, as well as doing your monthly genital checks. The role of the physician is to check or validate what you may or may not have found, in your personal checks.
We need to focus on the importance of knowing our bodies. The shame that we’re taught to feel over them, as children, needs to be replaced with positive reinforcements about our overall health. Talk about it with your partners and your doctors. Become comfortable talking about things that concern you, be even more confident in voicing those concerns.
Your health is important to you and others. Remember, what is penis health and how is it important to you.