Why do doctors tell you to look to the side and cough when holding your balls during an exam?

handsome medical doctor in modern officeWhen your doctor tells you to look to the side and cough, he or she is checking you for a hernia. A hernia is caused by a weakness in the abdominal wall which allows the abdominal contents (mostly fat, but rarely intestines) to slip down in to the scrotal sac (commonly referred to as your “balls”). This is more likely to happen when you increase the pressure in your abdomen by coughing. The doctor is holding on to the scrotal sac to feel if there is anything slipping in to it when you cough. He or she only has you turn your head so that you don’t cough in their face!