Body Aches Men's Health

What causes pain in the testicles?

Testicular pain can have several causes, from infections to traumatic injuries. Sometimes, testicular pain can be a medical emergency.

In this article, learn about the possible causes of testicular pain, as well as when to see a doctor.

Epididymitis

Patient at doctor's explaining testicle pain
An infection such as epididymitis can cause testicular pain.

Epididymitis is an infection of the epididymis, which is the organ where the sperm mature before exiting the body.

Symptoms of epididymitis can include:

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

Sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, can cause epididymitis. Urinary tract infections can also lead to epididymitis.

Doctors usually treat the condition with antibiotics.

Hernias

Hernias occur when tissue pushes through a weak part of the abdominal muscles. An inguinal hernia is one type of hernia that can push into the scrotum, causing testicular pain and swelling.

Doctors may be able to reduce or push an inguinal hernia back into place. If this is ineffective, they can correct the hernia with surgery.

Kidney stones

Kidney stones can cause pain that radiates to the testicles. Doctors call this referred pain, where the pain occurs beyond the area that is causing the problem.

Other symptoms that doctors may associate with kidney stones include:

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

Doctors may advise waiting for the kidney stones to pass. However, if a stone has not passed after some time or a person starts to experience symptoms of an infection, such as a fever or discharge, they should seek treatment as soon as possible.

Treatments can include surgery to remove the stone or shock-wave lithotripsy, which delivers shock waves to break up the stones.

Orchitis

A fatigue and fever are potential symptoms of orchitis.
Fatigue and fever are potential symptoms of orchitis.

Orchitis is an infection and inflammation of the testicle. Untreated epididymitis can lead to orchitis.

Symptoms of orchitis can include:

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

People should seek immediate treatment for orchitis. Sometimes the pain can be so severe that it is similar to testicular torsion, which is a medical emergency.

Treatments for orchitis depend upon the underlying cause. A doctor can prescribe antibiotics for bacterial infections. When a virus causes orchitis, they can recommend supportive treatments, such as over-the-counter pain relievers, rest, and elevating the scrotum.

Testicular torsion

Testicular torsion is a serious medical condition that occurs when the testicle twists around the spermatic cord. The spermatic cord carries sperm from the testicles to the urethra.

Typically, testicular torsion is a condition that is more common in young men, usually those under age 25 years.

Symptoms that doctors associate with testicular torsion include:

  • nausea
  • redness or darkening of the scrotum
  • sudden, severe pain that occurs on one side of the scrotum
  • swelling in the scrotum
  • vomiting

The pain from testicular torsion is not always sudden. Some people with this condition experience pain that slowly worsens over several days.

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

Treatment involves surgery to correct the testicular twisting. In rare cases, if a surgeon cannot repair the torsion, they may remove the testicle.

Usually, testicular torsion only affects one testicle, so removing it does not affect a person’s fertility.

Testicular tumor

A testicular tumor can cause pain and swelling in the testicular area. Other symptoms may include:

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

Symptoms of a testicular tumor can resemble several other conditions that affect males, such as inguinal hernias and epididymitis. A doctor can help diagnose the tumor or other underlying condition.

Trauma

A blow to the testicles can cause bruising, pain, and swelling. A testicle can also rupture or develop a hematocele. A hematocele occurs when blood pools around the testicle and presses on it, affecting blood flow.

If a person has experienced a blow to the testicles and is experiencing pain and swelling, it is best to seek urgent medical attention.

Varicoceles

Man tying sports shoes trainers onto feet
Varcioceles may cause more pain during physical activity.

Varicoceles are abnormally large or twisted veins in the testicles. Sometimes, varicoceles do not cause any symptoms.

When they do, a person may notice testicular pain that gets worse with physical activity or over the day. Varicoceles may also affect a person’s fertility.

Doctors do not know what causes varicoceles, but they can usually treat them with surgery.

When to see a doctor

It is best to see a doctor if any of the following symptoms accompany testicular pain:

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

Anyone with symptoms of testicular torsion should seek emergency medical attention. Without treatment, any condition that affects blood flow could result in loss of the testicle or surrounding parts.

Summary

If a person experiences swelling or pain in one or both testicles, it is best to see a doctor. If the pain is causing nausea and vomiting, they should seek immediate medical attention.

In cases of testicular torsion, the sooner a person seeks help, the more likely they can receive prompt attention to restore blood flow.

Medical treatments are available for most causes of testicular pain.

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