Turn Your Head and Cough

If you're a guy, you've either been there, or will be there at some point in time. You'll be in the doctor’s office for a checkup and the doctor is going to put on his plastic gloves and grab your body in your most private of areas, and tell you to turn your head and cough. Why on earth are they doing this? Is it some fantasy they are living out? What on earth are they doing down there anyway?

Why Does the Doctor Say: Turn Your Head and Cough?

The short answer is that the doctor is checking for hernias. Hernias are due to a weak area in the abdominal wall that allows your abdominal contents like fat to slip down into your scrotum area or groin where don't belong. What the doctor is doing is holding your scrotum to see if he or she feels anything slipping into the scrotum when you're coughing. The reason they have you turn your head, is so that you're not coughing in their face.

A few doctors will tell you to cover your mouth in lieu of telling you to “turn your head and cough”. Often, this is much safer as the germs from a cough can actually permeate the air and the doctor may still inadvertently breathe them in.

The doctor may do this as part of a routine checkup, especially if you're older or if you have ever had a history of hernias. If you present yourself with some pain or other classic hernia symptoms your doctor may also wish to check you for a hernia. Hernias can occur in your belly button (in both women and men) as well as the testicles in men. Eventually every man will have to have this type of exam. Try not to be embarrassed about it, every man has to go through it and for your doctor, it's very routine. So when you hear the doc say: please turn your head and cough, just do as he says.

Your doctor may also have you do this to help put your spine into the proper alignment or position for your exam. It can be much easier to check for a hernia if your spine is in the proper position. The actual position will vary from one doctor to another so don't be surprised if your new doctor doesn't do it exactly like your former doctor did. That doesn't mean they are doing it wrong, just that they are doing it differently. As long as you're being checked properly, there is no exact way that is right or wrong, just minor variances from one doctor to the next.

He may also check for testicular cancer as well, especially if you have a family history of testicular cancer or if you have any complaints about swelling or hardening in your testicle area.

More About Physical Exam and Testicular Exam

When you go in to see the doctor for a physical, your doctor needs to determine many things. They will weigh you, measure your height, take your blood pressure, your temperature and they will listen carefully to your heart and your lungs. They may check your eyes, ears, nose and throat as well. They may even check your reflexes by hitting your knee or elbow (or both) with a rubber hammer. The doctor uses specialized tools for each phase of your exam.

However, some parts of your body must be touched in order to diagnose anything that may be amiss. The doctor knows exactly how these parts of your body will feel and if things don't feel right the doctor knows just what he or she is feeling. He can check your tummy to determine if your spleen or liver are enlarged. He will check your neck and armpits as well as the groin area to see if there are any enlarged lymph nodes. This can help him to determine if you're fighting off an infection.

Your Testicle Exam:

Your testicles should be checked annually. The doctor will grasp your testicles one at a time. He will gently roll it to ensure that there aren't any odd lumps in it. He will also check to make sure that it's not enlarged or hardened.

You should ask your doctor how to do self-exams as well. You should check your testicles at least monthly to make sure that there aren't any changes. If you know how they should feel when you're healthy, then you'll notice any minor changes and be able to bring them to the doctor’s attention immediately. This will help you in the long run if you ever do develop cancer. Early diagnoses have a better chance for cure.

While it may feel embarrassing to have your doctor check you down there, it isn't any big deal to your doctor. If you do get an erection, don't be embarrassed, it often happens and it’s not something that you can control when you're being touched there. It isn't going to bother the doctor so don't be embarrassed. 

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