Anatomy Male

A number of disorders and diseases can cause testicle pain, including inflammation, hernias, and physical trauma. At first glance, male anatomy appears to have played a cruel joke: two of the most sensitive male organs are essentially outside of the body, where they are exposed and vulnerable.

In fact, there are sound reasons for male anatomy. Certainly the testicles and scrotum are vulnerable. However, the testicles external location leaves them six degrees cooler than the internal organs, creating the perfect temperature for sperm production.

The Testicles: Producing Sperm and Testosterone

Anatomy of the PenisThe testicles themselves are two oval organs, each approximately two inches large at adulthood. As any man can attest, the testicles are highly sensitive to physical pain. Contained by the scrotum, the testicles are also covered by a double layered membrane called the tunica vaginalis.

The testicles produce sperm and testosterone. Specialized cells, called Leydig cells, produce testosterone, a male hormone responsible for male secondary sex characteristics, such as facial hair. Sperm develops from germ cells within the testicles, taking as long as 74 days to mature.

The Epididymis and the Vas Deferens

Once mature, sperm enters the epididymis, a large tube that transports sperm to the ejaculatory duct. The epididymis is coiled at the upper back of the scrotum. It takes sperm twelve days to travel through the coiled twenty foot long epididymis. As the epididymis becomes straighter and larger, it becomes the vas deferens, which connects to the ejaculatory duct through the prostate. Testicle pain may be traced to disorders of the epididymis.

The Spermatic Cord

The testicles are suspended at the end of the spermatic cord. The spermatic cord is a system of nerves, testicular arteries, and lymphatic vessels. The spermatic cord is wrapped around the vas deferens. Surrounding both the vas deferens and the spermatic cord is the cremaster muscle, which can raise the testicles into the body to avoid cold and pain.

Possible Causes of Testicle Pain

Testicle pain can occur in a number of locations, and be caused by a number of disorders. Even mild physical trauma can cause temporary testicle pain. Longer-lasting pain should be reported to your doctor, as persistent testicle pain may be a sign of conditions such as:

  • epididymitis (pain caused by inflammation of the epididymis)
  • hernia
  • orchitis (testicle pain caused by infection)
  • physical trauma
  • testicular cancer
  • testicular torsion (pain caused when the spermatic cord twists).

Possible Causes of Scrotum Swelling

A swollen scrotum or testicle may or may not cause pain. Possible causes of scrotum swelling can include:

  • hydrocele (fluid accumulation in the testicles)
  • spermatocele (testicular cysts)
  • testicular cancer
  • varicocele (swollen spermatic cord).

Resources

Harvard Health Online. (2002, February). The swollen or painful scrotum. Harvard Men’s Health Watch. www.health.harvard.edu/medline/Men/N0202b.html.

Beers, M. H.