If you’re having surgery for testicular cancer, chances are you’ll be asked whether you’d like to have a testicular prosthesis (artificial testicle) installed.
We’ll share the pros and cons of testicular prostheses, benefits and risks, and why some guys get them and others don’t.
Ultimately, the decision whether to get a testicular prosthesis is yours — here’s what you need to know to make the choice that’s right for you.
To implant or not? That’s the question facing many men with testicular cancer: whether to have their surgically removed testicle replaced. Roughly 1 in 3 people who are given the choice opt for a testicular prosthesis, according to a 2019 study.
Not sure what’s right for you? We’ve got you covered. Read on to learn more testicular prostheses, their advantages and drawbacks — and to hear from guys like you who faced a similar choice.
A testicular prosthesis (sometimes called a prosthetic testicle) is exactly what you think. It’s an artificial replacement for a testicle that’s been removed during an orchiectomy, or testicular cancer surgery. The prosthesis is designed to have the same weight and feel of the real thing and, because no two nuts are the same, they come in different sizes to match your original.
Well, a lot has changed since the first testicular prosthesis was developed in 1941.
Some early models were, in fact, marbles. (Yep, you read that right.) Most today are made of silicone and filled with saline.
Mostly, they just hang around.
A testicular prosthesis doesn’t serve any medical or biological function, they are purely there for cosmetic and psychological reasons. They don’t produce testosterone or sperm. Their function is largely for the look and feel — which is not to say they’re unimportant.
You might think about getting a testicular prosthesis if you’re concerned about how things will shape up down there after surgery. Their main function is to restore normal appearance.
But for some guys, the impact is more than cosmetic. One study found that getting a prosthesis after surgery is linked to measurable improvements in self-esteem.
I’m very happy to have the symmetry. It became a part of my body two months in. I don’t even think of it as a prosthesis.Joshua, Nuts & Bolts Guide, opted to get a prosthesis
Sure. As with any surgical procedure, there is a risk of complications — all of which are extremely rare. For example:
There’s a possibility of infection after surgery.
The prosthetic testicle can shift after it’s installed.
In some cases, the prosthesis can leak or deflate — in which case it may need to be surgically removed or replaced.
Some men aren’t happy with how it looks afterward.
The best thing you can do is talk to your doctor about the benefits and possible risks of getting a testicular implant.
Getting a testicular prosthesis is usually an outpatient procedure, meaning you should be able to go home the same day. It is typically done at the same time as the orchiectomy. The surgery consists of four relatively simple steps:
The surgeon makes a cut (or incision) in the groin or upper scrotum.
A pouch is made to hold the prosthesis.
The prosthesis is secured into place.
The cut is closed.
The whole process takes about 10 minutes to complete.
The implant procedure can often be done at the same time as your orchiectomy. (Saves a few steps that way.) However, you can also choose to get a testicular prosthesis any time after, if you’re undecided or change your mind.
Keep in mind, because it’s considered an elective procedure (in other words, optional), you may have to pay out of pocket for your testicular prosthesis. The best thing to do is talk it over with your insurance company prior to your orchiectomy.
Expect to feel some pain or discomfort for a day or two after the procedure. Talk to your doctor if the pain is severe or lasts longer than that.
In the meantime, keep the area of your surgery bandaged and clean and be sure to let your body rest. Don’t lift weights or engage in any strenuous activity while you’re recovering.
Nope! The choice is entirely 100% yours.
As mentioned earlier, some guys experience a boost to their self-esteem from getting an implant. Others don’t feel like things look that different down there — or they’re not too concerned about it. Many guys proudly choose to be ‘uniballers’ after their testicular cancer treatment. Getting an implant does not affect your sex drive or your performance in bed.
I haven’t had any regrets or second thoughts. I wasn’t really bothered by the idea of there not being anything there. I notice on a daily basis that there’s nothing there. But it’s not a negative feeling.Ryan, Nuts & Bolts Guide, opted not to get a prosthesis
There is no one right choice, except the choice that’s right for you. If you’re on the fence about getting a testicular prosthesis, the best choice is probably to wait. You can always decide to get one later if you change your mind.
Remember: it doesn’t change who you are. You are the same person, whichever way you go.