On Wednesday, November 28, 2018, Love Island’s Chris Hughes made a surprise appearance on ITV’s This Morning show to have his testicles examined by Dr. Chris Steele. (If that link didn’t work, check out this Tweet video.)
Hughes has had a number of testicular operations in the past, due to issues he discovered on his own at the age of 14. He also has a cousin who was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Since he’s had two close, personal experiences with testicular problems, he decided to bare it all to help educate men about testicular cancer and the importance of self-exams—and the verbiage of “baring it all” isn’t just a hyperbole here.
After his introduction, Hughes dropped his pants and Dr. Steele examined his testicles.
His full scrotum was shown without any censoring from the cameras, though Chris did cover his penis with his hand. Dr. Steele also gave tips on how to do a self-exam, which is critically important information since the majority of testicular cancer cases are caught through self-exams, as opposed to regular doctor appointments. However, depending on which study you consult, anywhere between 40-60% of men do know how to do a self-exam.
Best done during or after a shower when the scrotum is relaxed, a self-exam is a quick and effective way to catch testicular cancer in early stages, making it far easier to treat. Just place your index and middle fingers under the testicle with your thumb on top. Firmly but gently, roll the testicle between your fingers from top to bottom. Any weird lumps or bumps should be checked out by a doctor ASAP. When you get out of the shower, be sure to look for signs of changes in shape, color, or swelling. You can also check out a video tutorial here.
Many articles about this segment gave Chris the credit he deserved, but not all were great.
One headline from The Independent read “Chris Hughes praised for showing his full testicular exam on live TV,” while another from Metro said “Chris Hughes gets his testicles out live on This Morning and we salute him.” The majority of people on social media were also very supportive, with many people commending him for his important and inspiring actions.
However, as to be expected with any “risque” sort of event, there were a handful detractors who didn’t enjoy watching Dr. Chris getting a handful from Hughes. The Irish Sun ran a headline that says, “This Morning viewers shocked as Chris Hughes reveals his testicles” and Entertainment Daily had one stating that “This Morning viewers shocked by close-up of Chris Hughes’ naked testicles.”
Someone Tweeted to Hughes, saying something to the effect that Hughes must need money if he is doing this type of “stunt on TV.” This Tweet has since been deleted after initial blow back to the poster.
Before that Tweet was deleted, however, Hughes responded, saying, “You don’t get a fee for this! The fact I have to justify this is crazy. It’s raising awareness that men don’t check up on themselves and cancer is a killer. If it saves a life then it’s done a job. My family were riddled with testicular issues, it means something to me.” It shows that his heart and mind were all in the right place… as were his testicles.
These negative types of feedback only make the state of men’s health harder to improve.
There is a ton of research to prove how resistant men are to talk about their health. Earlier this year, the Cleveland Clinic found that 61% of men have neglected visiting a doctor even when they needed to go. Even though 59% of men would see a doctor promptly for changes in their testicles and 49% of men would see a doctor immediately for testicular pain, the majority of men aren’t actively looking for these problems. The survey found that only 41% of men under the age of 35 regularly do testicular self-exams.
When an important event such as a major network allowing the world to watch a celebrity get a testicular exam on live television, this helps make giant leaps forward in changing these statistics. However, the negative headlines take away from the impact and have the potential to perpetuate these damaging narratives.
We need more telecasts and episodes like this and less headlines that make it seem shameful.
I purposely linked to the positive headlines to help drive traffic there, while omitting links to the less helpful articles because pageviews matter to advertisers. It’s already an uphill battle to get men to open up about their health, and we don’t need more barriers to it.
As quoted in the Independent article above, Dr Steele said: “A lot of men who find something wrong are embarrassed to go to a GP to discuss it. It’s a very frustrating area, testicular cancer, but it’s eminently curable, it’s a young man’s cancer, it’s easily detectable.”
Showing that his pun game is so strong, he added: “Keep your eye on the ball.”