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What are the causes of testicular pain?

Testicles (sometimes called testes) are very sensitive egg-shaped reproductive organs. They are a little smaller than a golf ball which hangs from the base of a man’s torso.

Testicles rest in a sack of skin called the scrotum, located just beneath the penis. The main purpose of testicles is to make and then store sperm and produce testosterone.

The pain in testes might arise from within the testicle itself or from the coiled tube and supporting tissue behind the testicle. Testicle pain can be the result of minor injuries to the area. Pain in the scrotum can also be caused by conditions such as testicular torsion or a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Ignoring the pain may cause irreversible damage to the scrotum and testicles. Therefore, if you’re suffering from testicle pain, you need to have your symptoms assessed.

Often, complications with the testicles cause stomach or groin pain before testicle pain develops. Therefore, unexplained abdominal or groin pain must be evaluated by your clinician.

Common causes of testicular pain

Several diseases and health problems can cause pain in one or both testicles. Pain in testicles along with other symptoms vary depending on the cause. However, often the symptoms can be very similar between the several causes. Thus, making it difficult to differentiate among the conditions which require immediate medical attention.

Pain in testicles can have many causes, from infections to distressing injuries. Some of them are as follows;

Epididymitis

Epididymitis is an infection of the epididymis, which is the organ of sperm maturation. Sperms mature here before exiting the body. An infection like epididymitis can cause pain in testicles. Symptoms of epididymitis can include;

  • pain which increases gradually
  • a scrotum which feels hot to the touch
  • swelling

Acute epididymitis involves pain and inflammation of the epididymis which lasts less than 6 weeks. In certain cases, the testicle has also involved in a condition called epididymo-orchitis. Chronic epididymitis lasts longer than 6 weeks. Its symptoms include discomfort or pain in the scrotum, testicle, or epididymis.

Common causes of epididymitis include sexually transmitted infections, like chlamydia and gonorrhea. Moreover, urinary tract infections can also lead to epididymitis. Antibiotics are usually used for the treatment of this condition.

Hernias

When tissue pushes through a weak part of the abdominal muscles, hernias occur. An inguinal hernia is a type of hernia which can push into the scrotum. Thus this pushing causes testicular pain and swelling.

Clinicians may be able to decrease or push an inguinal hernia back to its place. If this is unsuccessful, a hernia can also be corrected with surgery.

Kidney stones

Kidney stones can cause pain which radiates to the testicles. Doctors call this referred pain, where the pain occurs beyond the area which is responsible for the problem. Other symptoms which doctors may associate with kidney stones include;

  • blood-tinged urine
  • burning when urinating
  • nausea
  • pain at the top of the penis
  • sharp, cramping pain which may radiate from the back to the groin
  • frequent urination
  • vomiting

Usually, doctors advise waiting for the kidney stones to pass. However, if a stone has not passed or a person starts to experience signs of an infection, like a fever or discharge, they must seek proper treatment as soon as possible.

Treatments can comprise surgery for the removal of the stone or shock-wave lithotripsy that delivers shock waves to break up the stones.

Orchitis

Orchitis is an inflammation and infection of the testicle. Untreated epididymitis can cause orchitis. The potential symptoms of orchitis are fatigue and fever. There are many other symptoms of orchitis. Some of them are as follows;

  • fatigue
  • fever
  • nausea
  • testicular pain
  • swelling in one or both testicles
  • vomiting

Sometimes the pain can be so severe that it is like testicular torsion, which is a medical emergency. Therefore, immediate treatment for orchitis is necessary.

Moreover, treatments for orchitis usually depend upon the primary cause. A clinician can prescribe antibiotics in case of any bacterial infection. In the case of viral infection, they can recommend supportive treatments, like over-the-counter pain relievers, rest, and elevating the scrotum.

Testicular torsion

It is a serious medical condition which occurs due to testicle twisting around the spermatic cord, causing the supply of blood to the testicle(s) to be cut off. The spermatic cord transfers sperm from the testicles to the urethra.

Typically, testicular torsion is more common in young men, usually those under 25 years. Symptoms which doctors relate with testicular torsion comprise;

  • nausea
  • redness or darkening of the scrotum
  • sudden, severe pain occurring on one side of the scrotum
  • swelling in the scrotum
  • vomiting
  • Damage of the cremasteric reflex on the affected side. Normally, the testicle raises with light stroking of the upper inner thigh area

The testicular torsion pain is not always sudden. Sometimes, people having this condition may experience pain which gradually worsens over several days.

According to the American Urological Association, testicular torsion more commonly occurs on the left side than the right.

Its treatment includes surgery to correct the twisting of testicles. In rare cases, testicles can also be removed if a surgeon cannot repair the torsion. Usually, this condition only affects one testicle, so removing it does not affect the fertility of a person.

Testicular tumor

This is a tumor which can cause swelling and pain in the testicular area. Other symptoms may comprise;

  • dull pain in the groin
  • a lump in the testicle
  • testicular swelling

Its symptoms can resemble various other conditions which affect males, like inguinal hernias and epididymitis. Therefore, a doctor can help diagnose the tumor or any other underlying condition.

Trauma

A shock to the testicles can result in bruising, pain, and inflammation. A testicle can also break or develop a hematocele. Typically, a hematocele occurs when blood pools around the testicle and presses on it, affecting the flow of blood.

The testicular pain ranges from severe to absent at the time the individual sees a clinician. Seldom, however, the injury may seem minor, but there may be a serious injury to the testicle.

Therefore, it is best to seek urgent medical attention if a person has experienced a blow to the testicles and is experiencing pain or inflammation.

Varicoceles

Varicoceles are unusually large or twisted veins found in the testicles. Sometimes, varicoceles do not cause any signs.

In this condition, a person may feel testicular pain which gets worse with physical activity or over the day. Varicoceles can also affect the fertility of a person. Doctors do not know its actual cause, but they can typically treat with surgery.

When to see a doctor

It is best to consult a doctor if any of the following symptoms accompany testicular pain;

  • discoloration of the testicles
  • nausea
  • rare, bloody discharge from the penis
  • testicular swelling
  • vomiting
  • pain that gets worse over time

Hence, anyone with the indications of testicular torsion should seek quick medical attention. Without treatment, any condition affecting blood flow could cause loss of the testicle or surrounding parts.

Derek Barnes

Derek Barnes is the senior editor for Top Health Journal. Derek has been working as a journalist for nearly over a decade having published pieces many publications including the Knoxville News Sentinel and the Huffing Post. Derek is based in Nashville and covers issues affecting his city and state. When he’s not busy in the newsroom, Derek enjoys fishing. Contact Email: derek@tophealthjournal.com Phone: 720.575.5528

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