Having surgery is never fun. But knowing what to expect and doing some preparation in advance can really help reduce the stress of it all.
Testicular cancer treatment usually begins with a surgical procedure called an orchiectomy ("or-kee-EK-tuh-mee") to remove one or both of your testicles.
It’s a straightforward procedure that takes about an hour and is performed under general anesthesia.
A surgeon will make a cut on your lower belly. They’ll then push the testicle up into the pelvic area and through the cut in the belly, then close the cut with stitches.
Listen to Ben and Adam describe the day of their surgery:
Tell your doctors about any and all medicines, drugs, supplements or health products you take. It’s important for them to know what’s inside your body before surgery, so they can make sure it’s safe to perform the procedure.
Arrange for someone to drive you home on the day of surgery – you won’t be able to drive yourself.
Make sure you understand all the risks, benefits and options you have for your orchiectomy. Ask as many questions as you like beforehand.
Follow instructions about when to stop eating and drinking.
Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery, but don’t apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
Don’t shave the area around your penis and testicles. A doctor or nurse will do this when you arrive.
Remove jewelry, piercings and contact lenses.
Now head home and take it easy. You deserve a rest.
Pain. Some pain is normal, but tell your doctor or nurses if the pain is really bad. They may give you medication to help control any pain you have after surgery.
Bruising. Don’t be alarmed if you feel or see bruising around your nuts. This can happen if blood starts to collect inside your scrotum or wound area. Swelling from this can make it feel like the testicle hasn't been removed –even though it has. If this happens and you feel worried, talk to your doctor.
Erection difficulties. Removing one testicle doesn’t affect your ability to have an erection. However, if both testicles are removed, your testosterone levels will drop. You may be given hormones to increase your sex drive and ability to get erections.
Effect on fertility. Losing one testicle shouldn’t affect your ability to have children (fertility), providing the remaining testicle is healthy. Your other testicle makes up for the missing one by making more testosterone and sperm. It’s a good idea to discuss this risk with your doctor before surgery, to determine if you want to bank some sperm for later use.
Emotional effects. Losing a testicle can be tough. It may leave you feeling embarrassed, depressed or low on self-esteem. Consider talking about how you’re feeling with a partner, friend or counselor. Speaking about it can really help you get on top of these emotions before they become more intense.
You may be given the option of getting a prosthetic testicle.
The prosthetic is made of silicone and should have the weight and size of a normal testicle. Your surgeon will pick the correct size for you.
Remember – you don't have to get one of these, the choice is all yours. Make sure you see and feel it before deciding what you want to do.
If cancer is found, your doctor will order imaging tests of other parts of your body to check if it’s spread outside the testicle.
Can you describe what my recovery from surgery will be like?
What are the possible long-term effects of having this surgery?
Are there any medications or drugs I should avoid?