You probably never thought you’d read about men taking pregnancy tests, but it’s now happening around the world—for a good reason, too. It all started out as a joke, but what happens when the punchline ends up being something incredibly serious? When one man decided to take a pregnancy test he found in his medicine cabinet, he never expected the result to be positive. The real surprise, though, is that the positive result wasn’t just a mishap, a faulty test, or a joke from an evil pregnancy test manufacturer. No, for this man, the positive result actually meant something. Taking a pregnancy test can fill people with a wide range of emotions—happiness, sadness, excitement, fear, hope. Some take them hoping for a positive result after months of negatives, while others take them praying to see a single line instead of two. No matter the person’s situation, however, there’s usually one thing all pregnancy tests have in common: they’re taken by a woman. Why would a man take a pregnancy test? Most of us would guess it’d be out of sheer curiosity about what would happen, on a dare from a friend, or just for a laugh while you’re bored. The latter is exactly why one man said his friend took a pregnancy test. He found it in a cabinet from his ex-girlfriend who had moved out. No big deal—at least they never had a pregnancy scare to deal with, right? Unfortunately, this little joke, which the man thought would turn out to just be a funny story, turned out to be a lot more than what he bargained for. And imagine how shocked he was when it came back positive! A positive pregnancy test is usually a happy time. Surprise or not, most women are excited about the new life developing. This man, though, has a different story to tell. And after he shared the story on Reddit, men across the world are now taking pregnancy tests as well. Why? To screen themselves for something no man wants. Let’s go back to the beginning: It all started off innocently enough. A Reddit user, who has since deleted his account, decided to make a crudely drawn comic about his male friend’s decision to use a pregnancy test. The test had apparently been left behind in his medicine cabinet by his ex-girlfriend, so he decided to give it a try for a laugh, thinking nothing would really happen. Much to their surprise, however, the test came back positive. The two clearly didn’t think the positive result meant anything, but thought the outcome was hilarious nonetheless, so they decided to use it to gain some karma on Reddit. What they got, though, was tons of advice that actually ended up saving the life of this user’s friend. After the comic was posted, comments flooded in that suggested whoever took the test needed to see a doctor immediately.
There were so many that he decided the advice couldn’t be ignored, and the friend went to the doctor shortly after. Believe it or not, doctors actually detected a small tumor in the friend’s right testicle—because it was caught so early on, it was small enough that it hadn’t spread to any other areas of his body and could be treated right away. The Reddit user later posted a follow-up comic to thank everyone for giving him the advice that saved his friend from a much worse fate. He urged other men to check themselves for testicular cancer regularly, and reminded women to give themselves at-home screenings for breast cancer every now and then, too. But how, exactly, did a pregnancy test detect testicular cancer? As it turns out, it’s all about the hormones. Pregnancy tests are designed to detect the presence of a very specific hormone in the urine known as beta human chorionic gonadotrophin (hGC), which is produced during pregnancy. Though you’d probably never expect it, there are quite a few varieties of testicular cancer that also produce that very hormone—aside from testicular cancer and pregnancy, there aren’t really any other reasons why this hormone would appear in the body. According to the American Cancer Society, however, men shouldn’t rely on a pregnancy test to tell them if they have testicular cancer or not. As with women, false positives are always possible, and there’s always a chance that men with testicular cancer aren’t producing enough of the hormone for a pregnancy test to pick up. Though it might feel a little strange to follow the advice of someone on Reddit, he was correct in telling men to screen themselves for the disease often. And yes, that means self-exams. Don’t know what we’re talking about? Read on. While performing a self-exam for testicular cancer might feel a little awkward at first, it’s a necessity for men of all ages. That’s right—testicular cancer can affect men of all ages, not just those who are middle-aged or elderly. Fortunately, it’s a disease that’s usually easy to treat and cure, especially when you discover it early on. It’s best to perform a self-exam right after you get out of the shower of bathtub, so that the skin in your nether region is softer and more relaxed. You’ll take one testicle at a time gently roll it between your thumbs and fingers, using both hands. You’ll be feeling for any hard lumps or bumps, abnormal swelling or changes in size, and areas that feel thicker than the rest. Rest assured, though—it’s not abnormal for one testicle to be larger or for one to hang lower. Once you begin checking yourself regularly, it’ll be easier to tell what feels normal for you so you’re aware of any changes. Finding a lump on one of the testicles is what most people think of when they think of testicular cancer, but there are other signs to look out for, too. Unfortunately, a lot of them might now show up until the cancer is advanced, but it might not show many symptoms even then. The additional signs you need to look out for include:
- – A testicle that becomes large or swollen, even if you can’t feel a lump
- – Pain in one of the testicles, or a general feeling of pain or heaviness in the scrotum or lower abdomen
- – Male breast growth, or feeling sore in your chest
- – Early puberty in young boys, including hair growth on the face and body, and the voice getting deeper
If your cancer has spread beyond the testicles, you can also develop other symptoms that will vary based on where the cancer has spread.
- – Testicular cancer that spreads to the lymph nodes or liver can cause pain in the lower back or abdomen.
- – Testicular cancer that spreads to the lungs can cause chest pains, breathing difficulties, coughing, and coughing up blood.
- – Testicular cancer that spreads to the brain can cause confusion and headaches.
For any women out there wondering if pregnancy tests can detect anything other than pregnancy in women, the answer is actually yes. Though ovarian cancer is somewhat rare in the United States, it’s also possible that a pregnancy test could detect the presence of this type of cancer in a woman’s body. It would do so in the same way that it would for testicular cancer in men—by picking up on the presence of beta hGC produced by the tumor. The only obvious caveat for women is that a positive pregnancy test could also very well mean there’s a pregnancy happening so, if you find out you’re not pregnant after a positive pregnancy test, the threat of ovarian cancer is worth exploring. We all know, however, that false positives are a thing, so it really is best to just discuss the outcome with your doctor before you assume the worst.