Testicle Pain

Causes of Testicular Pain: An Overview Image

In many instances, physical trauma to the testicles can cause temporary testicular pain. However, severe physical trauma, inguinal hernias or a testicular infection — such as orchitis or epididymitis — can cause chronic testicular pain. In rare cases, chronic pain may indicate the presence of testicular cancer. In this article, you will learn about many possible causes of testicular pain.

Epididymitis and Epididymo-Orchitis

Epididymitis is a testicular infection characterized by inflammation of the epididymis (the tubular structure where sperm collect once they leave the testes). Epididymo-orchitis is characterized by inflammation of both the epididymis and the testes.

Both of these testicular infections are often caused either by a bacterial infection or a sexually transmitted disease. Symptoms of epididymitis and epididymo-orchitis include:

  • A gradual increase in testicular pain
  • Fever
  • Painful urination.

These common infections may be treated by antibiotics, and doctors often prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) to reduce fever and relieve pain.

Inguinal Hernias

An inguinal hernia typically occurs when a portion of the small intestine (or other abdominal cavity contents) pushes through the inguinal canal, which is a constricted section of the the lower abdominal wall. The protruding intestines can push into the scrotum and compress upon testicular structures. An inguinal hernia that pushes into the scrotum can be extremely painful.

For symptomatic hernias, the surgeon may use sutures or mesh to repair the abdominal wall defects. In some cases, emergency surgery may be required to repair an inguinal hernia, especially one that cannot be pushed back through the abdominal wall. Without immediate treatment, these “strangulated” areas can lead to possible intestinal obstruction and ischemia. Potentially fatal consequences may occur.

Orchitis (Mumps)

Orchitis refers to a testicular infection, usually by bacteria or viruses. Mumps, chlamydia and gonorrhea can all cause orichitis. Symptoms of orchitis include:

  • Blood in semen
  • Chronic testicle pain
  • Fever and/or nausea
  • Tender or swollen testicle(s).

When orchitis is caused by a sexually transmitted disease, treatment includes oral antibiotics. If the underlying cause of orchitis is mumps (caused by a virus), however, there is no cure for this type of testicular infection. Orchitis is not considered dangerous, but it can cause infertility if left untreated. The most common preventative measure against mumps is childhood immunization with a vaccine.

Testicular Cancer

In some instances, chronic testicular pain can be the result of testicular cancer. However, it is important to note that pain is not a common symptom of this type of cancer. More frequently, enlarged or swollen testicles indicate testicular cancer, which is most common among males aged 15 to 40 years. The lifetime risk of developing testicular cancer is about 0.4 percent.

If you are experiencing unexplained swelling in one or both testicles, or heaviness in your scrotum, call your doctor for a thorough examination.

Testicular Torsion

Testicular torsion occurs when the spermatic cord twists, blocking the flow of blood to the testicles. Strenuous exercise, trauma and defects in connective tissue have all been linked to testicular torsion.

Testicular torsion symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Sudden and severe pain in a single testicle
  • Vomiting.

Emergency manipulation or surgery is required to save a testicle affected by testicular torsion.

Hematocele and Trauma

Most testicle trauma pain only lasts for approximately 30 minutes. Persistent testicular pain due to physical trauma indicates possible injury, and should be checked by a health professional as soon as possible.

Hematocele is a condition that causes chronic testicular pain after trauma. Hematocele pain is caused by blood pooling in the scrotum. Most cases of hematocele will clear up without treatment. If chronic pain persists, however, surgery may be necessary.

Resources

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010). Epididymitis definition. Retrieved March 25, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/epididymitis/DS00603.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010). Testicular cancer: Symptoms. Retrieved March 25, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/testicular-cancer/DS00046/DSECTION=symptoms.

Merck Staff. (2010). Epididymitis and epididymo-orchitis. Retrieved March 25, 2010, from the Merck Online Medical Library Web site: http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec21/ch238/ch238l.html.

Center For Disease Control Staff. (2008). CDC fact sheet: Sexually transmitted diseases in the United States, 2008, national surveillance data for chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. Retrieved March 25, 2010, from the CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/docs/2008STDSurvReportMediaFactSheet-FINAL.pdf.