What is a Cough Test?

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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 21 March 2019
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A cough test, sometimes called a cough and drop test, is a manual method of detecting hernias and sometimes other testicular problems. The test is usually performed by a medical professional who feels the patient's testicles while he coughs, often while turning the head to the side. Blowing on the back of the hand may also be used to trigger the reflex. The additional pressure caused by coughing can help the examiner to identify a hernia.

In most cases, the medical professional will use this opportunity to also check for testicular cancer and proper development. While the cough itself does not usually assist in these assessments, the tests are often done during the same exam, which often makes patients believe they are part of the same test. The cough test itself does cause movement in the testicles, but its primary purpose is to help identify a bulge that might indicate a hernia.

Males often first experience this test in their early teens during a yearly physical. In some cases, it is performed with only a finger on the groin, which may seem less invasive. Later in life, it is often described as having one's testicles cupped in a hand. The exact manual method by which the healthcare professional performs the test may vary slightly, but the goal is always to look for bulges. Hernia detection may be available through other methods, but this inexpensive and quick test is most common.


It is possible for a man to perform a testicular exam on himself, but it is more difficult to perform a cough test alone. At home, it may be better to look for symptoms and warning signs of a hernia rather than attempt to feel a bulge using this method. If a man's partner has been trained and knows what to look for, he or she may be able to perform this test effectively without a medical license. Even so, these examinations should not be considered adequate replacements for medical care.

The test is often a subject of anxiety about medical exams among men. Unwanted erections can occur, which can be a source of embarrassment. Most sources giving advice about preparing for the experience note that, while it may seem invasive or embarrassing, particularly the first time, medical professionals perform this test all the time and are used to all the possible reactions. While women are clearly capable of performing the exam, it is always acceptable to request a male healthcare professional for an intimate procedure to minimize the patient's discomfort.


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Post 2

We have a local prison in our area, and living in a small town this can only mean one thing; everyone, and I mean everyone, works for the prison. And boy do they leave with some farfetched stories!

Apparently, they have their own version of the cough test for inmates which do not include checking for hernias in the least.

I suppose that's because so many things are restricted with inmates, that they sometimes feel the need to hide what they know will be taken if found.

And, it would appear that they hide these things really well. I don’t want to think about some of the things that they do, but apparently one very common method

is to actually insert objects into the rectum.

So, when officers go in to search cells, they are often also required to conduct strip searches that include the squat and cough procedure.

If there is anything hidden in this way, some or all of the object will be visible as a result of this test.

Post 1

I was completely disgusted just a few weeks ago by my family doctor. My whole family has been seeing the same physician for years, and we have never had this happen before.

My husband, one of her regular patients, went in for a typical checkup. He is on several medications and must go in for appointments more often than the rest of us who only show up when we are totally sick or for our yearly visit.

He had been having some problems in his genital area that were quite painful and so he asked her to take a look with a turn and cough test.

Can you believe that the doctor told him that she was

embarrassed to check him because he was a man?

She is supposedly scheduling him to see another doctor who is of the male variety, but apparently just couldn’t bring herself to look at the male anatomy herself.

What in the world? I thought that’s what we paid her the big bucks for! Meanwhile, he’s still in pain and waiting to be fit in someplace else.

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