Physical Exam: Adolescent Male
What happens during a physical exam?
A physical exam is an important aspect of staying healthy. Physicals should be performed yearly and before entrance into sports. The doctor will examine the eyes, ears, nose, throat, mouth, abdomen, back, legs, arms, and thyroid gland. In addition, the doctor will complete an assessment of growth and evaluate pubertal changes. Screening for hypertension, scoliosis, and obesity may be performed.
An important part of this examination involves the examination of the genitals and scrotum. The scrotum is the bag of skin that holds and helps protect the testicles. The testicles make sperm, and to do this, the temperature of the testicles needs to be cooler than the inside of the body. This is why the scrotum is located outside of the body.
During the physical exam, the doctor will examine the genitals, including the penis and testicles. The doctor may ask the teenager to cough while examining the scrotum. Although this can be embarrassing for an adolescent male, it is necessary to help evaluate the presence of inguinal hernias or tumors.
An inguinal hernia is when part of the intestine, or bowel, pushes down inside the scrotum from the abdomen. Although rare, the bowel can become trapped inside the scrotum, causing serious problems. The doctor checks for this by having the male cough while feeling inside the scrotal sac. Hernias may be felt as the person coughs and the bowel is pushed downwards. Hernias can be corrected with surgery.
Tumors are growths that occur throughout the body, including the testicles. Testicular tumors in adolescents are rare, but the doctor may check for this during the exam. The doctor will instruct the male how to perform self-exams.
It is important to know, as an adolescent male, that although this part of the physical may be embarrassing, it is necessary to make sure there are no problems.
- MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician